Turning 58 was a celebration, because of the bike ride I had accomplished, but more so because of the awareness of so many, who never get to be 58. When I was working at Williston State College, in my 40’s, we had the habit of celebrating birthdays. One of the instructors turned 50 and did not want a celebration; she wasn’t happy about getting older. Another instructor stopped in my office to visit about our lack of a birthday lunch for the psychology instructor. Jackie had Lupus and worked with her disease most days. Her comment is one I have never forgotten, “I am thrilled to gain every year, because I don’t know how many I will get.”
Do any of us know how many years we will get? I always had a smug satisfaction, because both of my grandmothers were in the 90 range, give or take a year, that I had familial longevity on my side; the death of my mother at 75 changed that feeling.
Granted Mom was a life-long smoker, a type-A, who lived a life filled with stress, much not of her own doing. While I am not a life long smoker, maybe two cigarettes in my life and parts of a couple of joints, I have the weight issue that my mother never had. I’m more diligent about my health care, get more exercise, and work fairly hard at being a type-b, but I have her genetics as well. Her father died of lung issues, while no autopsy was held, pneumonia was the official cause, but many of us suspected cancer. Mom also had a minor heart attack, that was undiagnosed for years, my paternal grandfather died of a heart attack, and my Dad has been saved from one by modern medicine a couple of times. My husband says, when I voice my worries, “We all have to die of something.” He is nothing if not pragmatic. 🙂
I am 58, if I’m allowed to survive for twenty more years, I will have three more than Mom. Thirty three more years, will give me the same time as her mother, I of course am hoping that along with the other traits of my maternal grandmother, that longevity will survive in me as well!
Do I fear death; of course I do, but not for the reasons I would have imagined at twenty. I want to see my grandchildren marry and have children of their own; I want to see my children to retirement, know they are all happy and successful in their life choices.. I want more time. I feel my body aches, even when I’ve done little. I try to remember the words of Elizabeth Taylor. She said she jumped out of bed every morning, ignoring the stiffness, and soreness and went on about her day.
Today I will enjoy today; hopefully next year, I will enjoy 59! Looking forward to longevity, praying for it, and counting on it. Live long and prosper. 🙂