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.