Milestones

On Sunday July 22 my son, Greg, marked his 40th birthday. He had looked forward to this celebration for a long time. He liked the idea of a party, cake and gifts.

Many people dread birthdays, especially those “big” ones that mark a decade. Think about your 40th, 50th, and 60th birthdays. Which were hard for you and which didn’t mean so much?

At a certain age, we begin to realize that we are no longer young or that we truly are our parents and full-fledged adults. Something settles in that makes us realize that there is no turning back and that we will never feel or look the way we did when we were 30 or 40 no matter what we eat or how much we exercise.

Our loved ones want to mark these times with us. Sometimes, it feels like the commemoration is a funeral- but with presents. I just got an email from someone compiling a scrapbook for a friend who is turning 70.  What I wrote felt like something I’d say at a wake.  I was celebrating our life as friends.

I am also coming up on 70. (But I’m still keeping the sexagenariansinthecity name for the blog). This will feel like a good milestone for me. I’ve made it to retirement. I’ve lived past some of my high school classmates. I feel comfortable and in reasonably good health and have satisfying relationships with many people.

When I was rushing around to get Greg’s party together, I was hoping to give Greg the experience he wanted. He decided on who to invite, what food to eat, and the agenda for the day.  We had plenty of time to visit and lots of good photos to remember the day.

Part of the preparation was getting together Greg’s baby things including lots of photos.  We made a collage and I brought a shoebox full of pictures for everyone to pick through and keep. Many of the photos were of birthdays.

In the end, those photos are so precious as our memories begin to fade about events that happened decades ago. They mean a lot because we don’t want to let those memories go. Of course, we mostly remember the good stuff and forget the bad. ( I don’t have photos of the cut on my leg when I climbed through barbed wire or the time I dropped a bowl of red Koolaid on the living room floor).

Greg, my birthday wish for you is that you will look at the photos 30 years from now with all good memories and a reminder of how much and how many people love you.