The morning of 31 December 1958. My very pregnant mother awakes to a cup of coffee from her adoring husband. It is their first wedding anniversary. It was a year ago when she walked down the aisle in her beautiful white dress, hair coiffed and Vivian Leigh eyebrows perfect.
By late afternoon, she had to be rushed to hospital. It had been written in the Book of Life that I was to be born. That my dash through life would commence on the very day of their first anniversary.
So there. What followed is a short but meaningful period as first grandchild with my parents and extended family. I was doted upon. Making me a precocious and busy little person by all accounts. Four years in, I was joined by a sister and cousins followed in short succession.
My new role was neither here nor there. Often I was my grandmothers youngest youngest. My last born aunt and I differ about six years. The rest of the new generation about four years or more after me. I was stuck in the middle. Christmas and Easter holidays heralded family gatherings.
As oldest cousin I was doomed to be the childminder when the adults went off shopping. No need to feel sorry for me. My greatest gift was that I learnt to read at a young age. So I would organise the cousins in their groups, boys to one side, girls to the other, and would nose-dive into a book. Many wondrous journeys all over the world in grandpa’s chair, while the younger cousins played their hearts out.
From the get go, I got used to my birthday being second to anniversaries and New Year celebrations. I got used to not having birthday cake. To this day I associate birthdays with left-over fruity Christmas cake with almond icing, and one gift to last me from Christmas to my birthday. So between Jesus and my parents and New Year, my life celebration was slotted in.
From a young age I celebrated fantasy birthdays. Lots of friends, balloons, interesting places as venues. I never let anyone know about my feelings or fantasies. Smile and wave, smile and wave. Let everyone get about their own celebrating. More time to read and escape.
As my dash extended, those near and dear to me departed. My parents passed away in short succession, my sister married and we grew lives apart. Life happens and your road is your road. Many non-eventful birthdays followed, until my soulmate arrived.
He understood my aversion to crowds, meaningless greet the New Year parties, headaches and thirst the first day of the New Year. We now spend a quite evening with whoever is around, or not.
He will surprise me with a once a year bouquet of flowers and when times are good a piece of jewellery and lots love and care. My beautiful daughter will spend the morning with us, and then, off she goes to join friends to celebrate a chance at 365 better days. Her presence in my life an utter joy and blessing.
Like Lucy Jordan will never drive through Paris, with the warm wind in her hair, I will never wear the sequinned ballgown, walk into the arms of my lover and dance with light bouncing off my beautiful dress. No friends and dear ones standing in awe at the beauty of that moment.
The song I always dance to “Auld lang syne.”
No, don’t get upset or anxious. Because my song is not sad, it is filled with memories, moments and monuments. The dress is richly sequinned. The gold represents people I have loved, known, embraced, had to say goodbye to. The silver -wisdom and growth, sometimes filled with tears and sorrow and pain, often with joy and ecstasy and love. There are red ones, green ones, purple, all the colours and feelings and emotions you can imagine.
Around my wrist I wear a bracelet of charms – the gift of words, honour, righteousness, belief, love, friendship, travels, sunshine, all sorts of well lived gifts and memories. This is real – the bracelet and its meaning.
As I write this on the morning of my 60th year, I realise the end of my dash is somewhere in the future. That I must make hay. The time left precious and the length of days uncertain. Every moment will by choice, be of quality.
No commitment to resolutions of bigger, better or more. Rather commitment to gratitude, grace and hope and a great sense of humour.
I choose to celebrate the 39th anniversary of my 21st birthday today.
I have lived 6 decades, 720 months, 2 130 weeks, 21 915 days, 525 960 hours, 31557 600 minutes and counting! In dog years I am 420, in scrabble only 15 points scored! Interesting. I like the many perspectives and options surrounding my age.
I read somewhere there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour. 60 is a safe speed limit too!
So three score ago, my legend was born, and I intend to thoroughly live whatever score may be reserved for me with all that I have, and in an epic way. Making all my moments count.
Happy New Year!
May God bless and keep us all.
PS. I did some investigating of my new rights as 60 year old. I can get discounts, free coffees, and so on at various places. I’ll think about taking it up.