Yesterday as I turned 60 years old, I wasn’t thinking of what people have said to me about starting my 6th decade of life, which includes some humorous, but not-so-humorous thoughts on aging, usually passed down by my slightly older, well-meaning friends and family. Things like, “It’s the beginning of the final chapters of your life.” Is my response to this supposed to be “Yay!” or “Yikes!”? Another is, “Now you won’t have to care about what anyone else thinks!” Does your Give a Hoot meter really switch Off when you wake up on your 21,900th day of life? And the one I’ve heard most often, “Now you’ll start feeling your age.” What is 60 supposed to feel like? Does that comment mean physically, mentally, or emotionally?
So no, I wasn’t contemplating any recent adages or advice. Instead, I was thinking of my mom, like I do every day. But what I was specifically remembering is what she would’ve said to me if we were together yesterday. She has said the same thing to me on just about every birthday, and that is, “How did you get to be that old?” My response is always simple, and that is, “I lived another year.” At that, we both laugh.
The last time I spent my birthday celebration with my mom was ten years ago. It was also the last time we were in Massachusetts for the holidays. Very memorable as everyone in our immediate family and close family friends all gathered at my brother Ray’s house for Christmas. Good company, good food and good cheer! And before we headed back to California for work, all of us had a get together at The Locker Room, a local bar and grill to celebrate my 50th birthday.
The gifts I received were sentimental. Mostly, funny cards. My sister Donna gave me a beautiful perfume bottle for my collection and a CD with 50 songs we used to sing as kids. “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five, “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight and the Pips and “Brandy” by Looking Glass were among them. At Ray’s we played the CD then sang and danced along, while laughing the entire time! That was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.
When we returned home from that trip, I did as I always do, I wrote out Thank You cards. But I also sent out other cards, too. Ones I made by hand, written on my actual birth date. I guess you could say, they were presents to myself.
From my journal: January 2, 2012 Thousand Oaks, California
“Wrote out my 50th birthday cards…want to give them to my family who mean everything to me.”
The cards were slate blue with an embossed bird (I love birds!) colorfully painted on the front. Inside, I wrote about our relationship, specific details about times we’ve shared together and how fortunate I felt for having them still in my life. Ten years later, I still feel this gratitude and I remind myself every year that these people are truly the only gifts I really want, and ever need.
And now, that I am officially 60 years old, I want to address the comments I’ve been getting lately. So here goes!
While I may be at the beginning of the final chapters in my life, I say “Hooray!”. I know from being an avid reader, those chapters are the ones when all the interesting things happen. It’s where all the good stuff takes place! The plot comes together, and everything begins to make sense. It’s where insights and understanding are revealed. And forgiveness comes more easily. It’s also where happy endings occur.
As far as not caring what anyone else thinks…I still do and always will. Listening to others’ opinions of me or anything else helps me have a wider view and a different way to look at things. In turn, this allows me to continue to learn about myself, life and others.
And finally feeling my numeric age… Physically, I feel good. I still hike, bike, do some yoga, calisthenics (remember them?) and even play pickleball as of late. Mentally, I feel smarter, now having made many (many!) more deposits in my experience and memory banks. And emotionally, I feel more confident, capable, and calm about how to handle things that come my way. But most of all, I feel very fortunate and grateful.
Yes, I am now sixty years old…and still counting!!