IN CELEBRATION OF BIRTHDAYS
When we were kids, our parents always celebrated our birthdays. Up until at least age 18 while we lived at home, Mom would be sure to make a cake of our choice, a special meal—again, our choice, and at least one small gift.
When we turned ten, each of us got to have a full-on party, complete with gift-bearing friends invited. Just one big party, and it was enough. We anticipated the big decade mark for the party we would get to have in our honor.
Our younger brother was born on Christmas Eve. Mom always made sure to observe his birthday that day, but she would sometimes plan a celebration later in the year–I remember one in July–so that his birthday would not be overshadowed by the holiday.
I’m going to put it right out there: I am having a birthday this week, and I am so excited. I always get excited about my birthday. I know it’s because our parents celebrated the day we arrived on the earth, into our family. As an adult, Mom would call me at 4:15 p.m. on my birthday, the exact minute I was born.
This year, I am completing my 53rd trip around the sun, and I am not one bit ashamed to admit that. Then, the day after my birthday, I will embark on my 54th sojourn, as time will not stand still to ask me if, perhaps, I’d like to take a little respite. I embrace and welcome the opportunity to keep traveling.
Gail and Suzanne are on the same page with me. We all agree birthdays are to be proclaimed, noticed and celebrated. They do it for theirs, so I am taking pride in telling the world IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!
Here I go again. I’ve been up on this soapbox several times before, and I am getting back up on this perch again to tell you yet one more time:
AGE IS A GIFT. Which is why I celebrate. The old joke about how it’s better than the alternative is trite, but true, at least for those we celebrate with on earth. Last week, however, I wrote about what lies beyond this plane, and all three of us agree it is something way better than this. So, technically, we don’t really believe birthdays are better than the alternative. Again, as the country song says, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to go right now…”
Age is a gift to be unwrapped and enjoyed, just like any other gift. Just as it would be an insult to the giver to complain about a material gift, it is an insult to the Giver to complain about being given another year.
This board was posted on the wall in the employee area of one of the long-term care facilities I travel to, with anyone welcome to comment.
I meet some incredible people in my work as a speech therapist in health care. I have honored some of them in the past by printing their wisdom, and, just in time for my birthday post, I met another one last week. She will soon be 90 years old. She lives alone, independently, as she has for years.
“I can’t wait to be 90. I know some incredible people who are already there, and I can’t wait to join them,” she said.
If I feel it is appropriate, I often ask these elders what their secrets are to aging successfully. Clearly, it was appropriate to ask her this question.
“I’m continuing to be me. I’m not allowing age to change me.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been discouraged. I don’t let things get me down. I can’t change getting old. What am I gonna do? Sit in a chair and rock away?”
As final words of wisdom, she offered this: “If you haven’t done what you want to do, do it now. As soon as you can.”
We’ll call her “Ruby.” She is a gem indeed. I could tell you about the unique and interesting hobbies she still engages in, but that may very well be a HIPPA violation, as they may identify her due to her uniqueness.
I decided several years ago that the best gift I get each year is from Mother Nature. Just in time for my birthday, she typically gets the verdant green on the ground, and the leaves hung on the trees. All for me.
Several years ago, she didn’t quite make it in time. My gift arrived a little late. This year, however, it appears she is going to deliver in time.
The Bradford Pear trees are in full bloom in our neighbor’s yard.
Mother Nature and Father Time have become my allies; I no longer try to fight them. It’s pointless. I have struggled more with Mother Nature lately; perhaps I need—yet again—to try to take Gail’s advice from last week about savoring whatever weather she brings. Western Kansas got a spring blizzard last week; Gail’s small town shut down school and some other community operations. The next day, the snow was gone.
Father Time, on the other hand, is now my friend. I used to despise him for bringing another hash mark on my birthday tally, but I am old and wise enough to now know that every year, every month and week, every moment of every day is a gift.
I always have, and still do—for the most part—think that women need to embrace the lines and wrinkles that age brings. They are typically hard-earned and well deserved. Surgery and expensive cosmetic treatments and procedures are a form of denial, and simply embracing the change is the healthiest and most natural thing to do.
That is, of course, until it is my face showing the age.
Last week, I looked in the mirror, and just like that, seemingly overnight, I had jowls. I wasn’t even sure that was the right word; I hadn’t paid much attention because I really hadn’t cared until now. I looked it up—being the word nerd I am—and sure enough, indeed they were jowls, arriving just in time for my 53rd birthday.
This rude awakening coincided with my haircut appointment. I had a few minutes to read her magazines before it was my turn, and I picked up a popular magazine from a few months ago that highlighted the fads of 2018.
I’m not one to jump on any bandwagon, so I had never even heard of a jade roller. There it was, being debated as useful vs. useless to tighten and shape skin on one’s face.
This interested me more than a little bit. Some of the work I do—including some I did just yesterday—involves exercising and tightening facial muscles after a stroke. The gentleman I saw had a recent stroke, and his left side was weak, including his lips and facial muscles. He was losing liquid out of the corner of his mouth, and this becomes a functional problem that I treat.
So I did.
Knowing the value of stimulating facial muscles, I continued to research the jade roller. Apparently, jade has been used for centuries for its seemingly magical healing qualities. The jury appears to be out, but from my professional experience, this type of stimulation may be worth considering.
I don’t need a party or widespread attention on my birthday. I’m still getting a lot of mileage from the 50th birthday party three years ago. It’s not too early to begin planning for Gail’s 60th, which will be in just ten short months. Suzanne will have a big one in 16 months, and we will certainly blow the roof off for both of those.
I do have one request for a gift from you: Please celebrate your own birthday. If you don’t think it’s important, then you have some work to do. Start by figuring out where that crazy idea came from, and work to change that. Observing the day you arrived on earth is not ever to be dismissed as unimportant.
If “Ruby” is going to celebrate her 90th birthday, you’d better celebrate yours, too, no matter how old you are.
I don’t have grand plans for my birthday, but I do plan to do what I please—for the most part. Perhaps a dinner with my family, perhaps soaking up some rays that Mother Nature is predicted to deliver that day, reading, napping and even a little work—if I have to.
These freedoms to do my thing are the best gifts of all—along with Mother’s Nature’s touch outdoors. That doesn’t mean, however, that I haven’t treated myself to a few goodies as well. I don’t really need anything, but I indulged a few small wants.
The wants include the jade roller. I don’t need it, but I am curious. Plus, it was only 12.97 on Amazon…I will give you my product review in time. Until then, I will do my best to embrace the jowls, and all the other gifts that age brings.
Happy Birthday to my birthday buddies: Charlie— a college friend born on the same day in the same year; Lois—a former co-worker, my new friend Glenda, and Libby—one day before me, a former co-worker as well. My cousin Theresa celebrates one day before as well. Happy Birthday today–Sunday– to Tammy. Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law Melissa; she celebrates on tax day. Happy Birthday too to Nesha; she lives in my small city now, having been born one day after me in the same hospital. We were buddies in the hospital nursery. My niece celebrates two days later, and so does my friend Nicole.
Whenever your birthday happens to be, Happy Birthday to you, too.