I turned 67 today. Of course birthdays have long since not been an occasion for the giddy excitement of childhood but I continue to enjoy having some amount of celebration. At this age, with no siblings, husband or children and parents in their 90’s, it’s been slowly sinking in for the last few years that before too long no one will be around on that day.
I don’t dwell on it much, but until now, when I’ve thought of it, I’ve felt sorry for myself. While it WILL be sad just not to have my parents and their pleasure in the fact I was born, I finally have re-defined something about birthday.
Right now my mother and I live together so she greets me with something she’s ordered and a “happy birthday” to start the day and my father calls somewhere after that, having sent a card with a check ahead of time. So I’m increasingly contemplating the birthday when they aren’t here and how I want to spend the day.
They’re both getting ever more frail and I’m doing my best to see to it that both are okay though I can’t get to my dad very often at all. Most of the time I’m just worried about them, so birthday and Christmas are the only two times I confront the frailty and what’s ahead and feel uneasy about life without them around.
A couple of times in the past when I lived far from either parent, I put together a small party, specifying no presents, but had a general impression people felt dragged into celebrating and I’m not really into parties so that’s not something I’d do again.
So far one of the main things, since I love really good food, has been seeing to it some sort of treat or special meal is on hand. But looking deeper into the meaning of birthdays — and not wanting to try to fill empty spaces with food 🙂 — and whether they need celebrating and what would be meaningful for me I’m starting to envision future birthdays spent in contemplation, drawing tarot cards, possibly a spa or massage visit, and meditating on spirit and purpose and why I’m here and whether I’m living my purpose. Really sounds more like me than a lot of the usual birthday stuff.
Something about creating my own vision for a different kind of day that doesn’t require presents and cakes and someone who says “Happy Birthday” as soon as I get up calmed the anxiety about that future that isn’t here. And right now I feel so blessed to have parents who’ve made it to 94 and still celebrate as they can with me.