I’m just glad I made it this far!
For the last 20 years or so, whenever my dad has had a birthday, he always makes some comment about his age that is half-serious. Something along the lines of, “I’m just glad I made it this far!”
My dad turned 81 this year. Until he hit 80, I always thought his comments were silly. He is so spunky and full of life, it never seemed possible that he could feel old. He certainly doesn’t look or act anywhere near his age. For some reason, 80 was a big deal in my mind. I guess because all of my grandparents died before they were 79. So, for his last two birthdays, when Dad would act surprised that somehow he had managed to make it another year, I felt less like “what a silly man” and more like “yeah, that’s a big deal!” It feels like such a triumph to me for him to celebrate another birthday – the bigger that number gets, the longer I have my dad!
I’m sure there is an age in every person’s life when they stop thinking about the next birthday. 60, 70, 80. It varies. But there is certainly a birthday when they think, “I really have no idea if I’m going to be here next year.” I hope that if you are in that time of your life you are doing what my dad has done for years and just enjoy the heck out of life!
On my last birthday, I was three weeks out from a breast cancer diagnosis, two weeks post-lumpectomy, and just three weeks away from starting chemo. All I could think was, “I just want to live to see my next birthday.” I was scared out of my mind. I worried I wouldn’t see my daughter off to college, grow old with my husband or even see my perennial garden bloom again.
Today, though, I think I have a greater sense of the “serious” part of my dad’s half-serious remarks. It’s my 36 birthday and, yes, I’m just glad I made it this far!
I never thought I’d reach that “twilight of my years” feeling this soon, but boy have I ever! You might be surprised to know there is a freedom in not knowing whether you will live to see your next birthday. I feel less guilt about the things I think I should be doing (and am not getting done) and more of an intense desire to do the things I want to be doing. I have a strong sense of priority in my life now that gets clearer every day: take care of myself, tell the people I love that I love them and spend time with people I like.
To be sure, odds are in my favor that I will see my next birthday. I’m jealous of other 36-year-olds who are more than 99 percent certain to get to 37, but I’m over 80 percent, so that’s still an excellent bet!
Although I’m fairly certain I will make it, the fact it is even in question I think qualifies me for the “twilight” club. And although I didn’t apply for membership, I don’t mind being accepted.
Have you ever noticed how beautiful the twilight is? In the summer, it’s the time just before the mosquitoes appear, when the air has cooled to a comfortable level, but there is still enough light to play volleyball. The sunlight is filtered by the atmosphere to cast golden tones and angled for long shadows. People look young and romantic in twilight, like a movie shot with Vaseline on the lens! It’s when people are starting to settle in for the night, but have just enough energy left to drag the lawn tools to the garage, the chairs to the back porch and to sit outside with friends.
When you are cooped up inside, scurrying around in an insulated house, you never notice the twilight. It’s afternoon one minute, then the next time you peek out the window, night has fallen. But when you are on that porch, comfortable in your chair and enjoying the time with friends, the twilight goes on for a good long time.
That’s me, in the summer twilight, trying to take it easy for a good long time.