I turned 60 last week. I was surprised by my reluctance to celebrate this milestone. Usually I anticipate birthdays with a glee not quite becoming of someone over the age of 10. I have always found great joy in the day of my birth, a result no doubt of childhood memories of the world’s best birthday parties. They were not lavish but there my mother and I chose a theme (Winnie the Pooh or Hawaiian Islands or hippie fest – it was the 60’s, after all) and there were games, friends, cake and ice cream. It was a real celebration.
But this year I felt more hesitant.That feeling diminished somewhat when I visited the nursing home the day before my birthday. After carefully winding my way through wheelchairs and walkers to address the group gathered for worship,I announced my final day in my 50’s. A collective sigh rippled through the group as they wistfully reminisced, “Sixty.I remember 60. So marvelous to be so young.”It was a good to hear their perspective.
Those very senior citizens are right, of course. Despite our society’s love affair with youth and all things new, I realize that getting older is a gift not everyone receives. After more than three decades of ministry, I have too memories of too many tragic funerals.Grieving families miss their cherished loved ones – babies, teenagers, young adults – who died too young. Complaints about gray hair and aching joints,those telltale signs of aging, fall on deaf ears. These families have an empty place at the table and in their hearts.
So I rejected the temptation to whine (or lie) about my age. I know it’s a privilege to be alive, to be here,to love and be loved. I spent my day having lunch with my parents which seemed very fitting since they were there with me and for me since the very beginning.I was delightfully surprised to be joined by one of my brothers and my sister-in-law. We celebrated with balloons; there was cake and ice cream, laughter and memories.
The evening offered a meal with my husband and daughter, followed by a movie at home. My sons called to wish me well. It was a quiet day of celebration filled with family and love.
May it remind me to give thanks for each new day. And may I be inspired to make the most of each one.