Tough Birthdays

My birthday is tomorrow the 12th, and it’s a big one. The one after “middle age” and the beginning of  “elderly.” It’s difficult to fathom I’m there already. I don’t feel elderly. I’m told I don’t look elderly. However, the calendar says I am. During the last several years when my birthday rolled around, I said it was just a number. I still felt young and vital and physically fit, so it didn’t have any effect on me. This one is different. I’m feeling my mortality, as a being who must eventually die, the dictionary says. Ye gads! This is the first time my age seems connected to a time schedule.

I remember thirty was difficult for me. Was I where I was supposed to be, I wondered? I reviewed my accomplishments and goals and soon became absorbed in just living and forgot all about time passing. There were too many things yet to do, places to visit, people to meet. I had a child to educate, nurture, train, and wifely duties, and responsibilities to my community. The concept of age was too remote to be concerned about.

This past August I had a stroke and barely a month later I was a passenger in a potentially fatal car crash. Wow, what a wake up call. For the first time in my days on this Earth, I realized I was actually mortal, that I wouldn’t be here forever. Of course, I knew the Grim Reaper would eventually claim me, but I didn’t think it could be this soon. The aftereffects of the stroke are about gone now, but the impact of what it did to my psyche is on-going. I’m also healing from the injuries incurred in the car crash, and now I have this urgent need to get my life in order, just in case. I’ve never felt like this before.

After the stroke, shock gave way to relief that I was still here. I can’t say I was afraid per se. It was more like incredulous. How could this have happened to me? Disbelief became a desire to educate myself so I could make changes to lifestyle, diet, exercise. Then gratefulness settled in that I was “warned” and had time to learn what to do to survive. An author friend e-mailed me about her stroke and offered encouragement and guidance, which helped tremendously. It gave me the comfort of knowing I wasn’t alone and it gave me a course of action to take.

That was what I needed. I found out what a wonderful family and great friends I have. I mean, I already knew that, but in this time of crisis, knowing they were there, ready with their love and support gave me the fuel I needed to keep on keepin’ on. As one gets older, relationships become more and more important. I am truly blessed to have deep and meaningful relationships with both my family and my friends.

So, when it finally comes my time to shuffle off this mortal coil, I’ll go in peace.

31 Comments

Filed under life, musings

31 responses to “Tough Birthdays

  1. Thirty was a hard one for me, too. The ones that have come and gone since weren’t half bad – just kind of unimportant. As my body ages, I wish I had appreciated more the body I had then, when I was 30. Of course, I thought there was much to be unhappy about when I looked at myself in the mirror back then. Now I realize how silly I was.

    • Isn’t that the truth! I was the same way, Sherrie. My mother always told me it was more important to be pretty inside than out. I understand that better now. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Simply said, thank you for writing this, I feel a kinship and a sense of peace from your wonderful essay.
    Warmest regards,
    Jeff

  3. I understand how you feel, Coco. My sister passed away a couple of weeks ago. She was 54. it was hard for me to accept she was gone. Today on Veteran’s Day is her birthday and it even makes it harder. I remember 30 being so hard just like you. After that years fly by. You are so strong to have undergone all you have. I wish you’d write another book soon.

    • Oh, Rosa, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister. She was so young. I pray the good memories of her will become stronger than the pain of her loss. Thank you for sharing your grief. I think it helps. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
      I hope Sheena and Arran can have another adventure soon, too.

  4. Yes, the stroke must have been a shocker! As I too have been down to the cremation grounds and then given a second chance–we have to LIVE until we die. All those youthful years of moping around–what a waste of time and good health! Smell the flowers (like Ferdinand the Bull), embrace family and friends. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COCO! You’ve just entered a New year. 🙂

    • Thank you, Juliet. You are so right! It’s a good thing our values change as we mature, huh? Yep, be grateful for each day! Thank you for the birthday wishes and your comment!

  5. dellanioakes

    Coco, you’re still amazingly talented, vibrant and capable. I agree, though, nothing like a little medical trauma to make you grasp your life and want to dig in and hold on. I refuse to feel my age OR think of myself as old, but I see young mothers with little children and realize I have a grandchild — I feel OLD!

    Happy Birthday!

  6. Last year I wrote about my birthday: “This is one of one of the big 0 birthdays, the one where you can no longer fool yourself into thinking you are still young (even the actuarial tables acknowledge this one as a major change)”. It was one of the few birthdays that bothered me, mostly because it meant I would be growing old alone.

    It’s good that you have family and friends. Even better that you have a great outlook. Happy birthday, Coco!

    • Thank you, Pat. I know you’ve had an especially difficult last couple of years, but you do have a wonderful family here at Second Wind and great friends within this group. I’m sure you have other friends as well. You are extremely talented and giving and are loved, needed and cherished. Always remember that. Trust me, you are not alone.

  7. Cynthia

    Happy Birthday To My Best Friend! This was just beautifully said just like you are inside and out! We both love you so much! Cynthia and Bruce

  8. From the outside it looks like you are following your path of heart, sharing your gifts with those in your circle of influence and reflecting and acting on what the universe brings to you. Is there more that anyone can do? On this birthday I celebrate your energy for living, your curiosity,your optimism, your determination, and your creativity. Blessings from a classmate who journeys with you across that same birthday year threshold..

    • Thank you very much, Bob, for the wonderful and eloquent words. Coming from you, a man who knows how to show us what gifts we have within us, they really mean a lot. Here’s to many more thresholds!

  9. Happy Birthday, and thank you for this lovely post.

  10. Kathy and Ari

    Happy Birthday Aunt Gail!!! As always your writing is amazingly thought provoking. People of all ages would benefit from reflecting on their life each birthday. The lessons we could learn! You are a beautiful person and by the way not at all elderly! We wish for you much love, happiness and health in the coming year.

  11. Joan Trometter

    Your loving sister, Joanie

    Since my daughter replied on your blog, I had better do the same. I wrote to you personally, but now I feel I should include my compliments on your blog. I cannot tell you how proud I am to be your sister for so many reasons, but I just have to say that I thoroughly enjoy your writing. It is so profound and inspiring. I look forward every time you have written something new and I am looking forward to a sequel to “She Had to Know!” I love you Sis and Happy Birthday!

  12. Your posts are always inspirational and a joy to read. I am new to blogging but am learning a great deal from people liek you. Happy birthday and remember that you are only as old as you feel!!

    Remo (http://www.themeffect.com)

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Remo. You are right. I am only as old as I feel. That’s why I have such a hard time believing I’m as old as I am. I feel young. Anyway, I went to your website and saw Bonnie Pruden’s name! Wow! I met her many years ago when she was giving a talk on fitness in New Jersey. Good for you for dealing with the subject of aging and staying healthy and fit! Thanks for stopping by!

  13. So sorry about your health scare, and blessings to you in your recovery. As my grandma used to say, “Too soon old, too late smart.” And my grandpa said, “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Easier said than done. Happy birthday!

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