Posted by: ritagone | September 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Today’s my birthday.

I won’t tell you how many of those I’ve celebrated prior to the one today, but there have been plenty.  More than 20 or 30 or even 40.  I’m stopping there.  You get the picture.

Age is a funny thing.  I don’t feel as old as the number of years I am today.  Sometimes I look in the mirror, just passing by,  and there’s my mother.  Yikes!  How and when did that happen?  When I think of myself, I think in terms of younger, thinner, spryer, more mentally agile, just “more” of a lot of things that don’t always get better with age.

Perception of age is also a funny thing.  Decades ago, when we were in our twenties, I had a friend whose mother was dying of breast cancer.  My friend, in the callous way of youth, exclaimed to me one day, “Well, she’s had a long life.”

Her mother was 42.

That friend is now over 60, and I’m sure those words and that callousness often comes back to haunt her.  It was said not meanly but because at 23 or 24, 42 does indeed seem long-lived.  Just as my grandchildren ask me how old I am and, when told my age, grow wide-eyed with horror that someone could actually still be sentient and mobile at that age (that I’m not going to mention to you — and you thought I was going to trip up and mention).

Another funny perception of age: at my age today (still not divulging), 70+ and 80+ doesn’t seem as old as it used to.  The chasm between my age and those ages gets narrower and narrower.  When I hear about someone “elderly” falling and injuring him- or herself, I think, “That could be me.”  And it could easily be.  I know now, with the wisdom of age and more life experience, that the difference between my current physical prowess and a walker or a cane is one short trip in a parking lot, one slip on a stairwell, one misguided mistake when I’m not careful or not looking.  The older you get, the more fragile your balance, and the stories abound of older people – people older even than I am – who one minute were fine and the next were in the emergency room with broken bones or sprained ligaments because of an unanticipated fall.

Hearing loss, eyesight diminishment, health issues: all of these loom massively before all of us, and they grow more and more ominous as each birthday arrives.

Is it any wonder that I don’t greet birthdays with the relish that I used to?

Used to be that I spent weeks celebrating.  Now, what’s to celebrate?  Getting old is not for the feint of heart, but, as the saying goes, the alternative is not much better.

And so the spiritual lesson to all of this, because there is a great and deep one: carpe diem.  Seize the day.  The older you get, the more birthday candles you blow out (if you’re able), the more you realize that each and every day, much less each and every birthday, is a gift from God, something to cherish and relish and enjoy.

David said it best in Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Michael and I used this verse in our wedding ceremony almost 41 years ago, and it resonates even deeper with me today.  Why?  Because only God can teach us the importance of time and how not to waste it.  When left to my own devices, I am a great time waster.  I am not wise.  I squander the moments and hours until they turn into wasted days and months and then years.  Before I know it, I’m older and then I’m old…and what have I accomplished?  More importantly, what have I accomplished for God?  What have I done for the Kingdom that will have lasting value once I’m no longer around to blow out the candles on a birthday cake?

When I was younger – okay, even a few years ago – it was all about the gifts I could anticipate getting on my birthday.  I loved the excitement of wondering what Michael would give me, because I knew he spent time thinking about me and deciding what would be a gift well suited to my needs and my desires, and that made me happy: that he would take this opportunity to focus on me in such a loving manner.  And that my kids and grandkids would come together to honor me.  And of course that my friends would do the same.

But now, it’s much less about the gifts.  I have almost everything I could ever want or need of a physical nature.  Now it’s about being with friends and family and knowing they care to spend time with me and hang out on my special day.  Everyone’s busy.  Stopping for a few hours with me in and around my actual birthday says a lot to me about how much you care.  Because I realize that your time for you personally is even more valuable than any gift you could give me.

And it’s the one thing I won’t ever have to return.

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Responses

  1. Great post today Rita…and Happy Birthday. I hope it is a day full of true gifts!

  2. Happy Birthday, Rita. These are great reminders for all of us…prompters, actually. Thanks for the encouragement to make this day count.

  3. Rita
    You have been such a blessing and gift from God in the 25 Years I have known you. You have been there for me in times of need and have been a mentor in my life. Your birthday post was as usual so inspiring !! Happy Birthday dear friend, Love Jana

  4. Happy Birthday Rita…belated that is! How could I possibly forget? Do you think it could be MY age????? ; ) Wish I had been nearer so that I could have spent time with you too. You are a dear friend and I miss your company. Keep smiling and bringing much laughter to all of us. God bless you and give you many more healthy and happy years to come.
    Loves ya, Barb
    PS I love reading your “Ramblings”!


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