Marilyn Monroe died at age 36 and for some reason, I thought that would be a good age to die before I grew too old. (I was sixteen) When you are that young anyone over twenty is suspect. When I was eighteen I hit it off with a new friend, I asked her age one day and was shocked that she was twenty-five! I remember thinking omg she is so OLD! Turning twenty-one was exciting, I could finally drink legally in a bar. We all remember our coming of legal age. I dated, eventually married, and settled down.
As thirty loomed up on me so did motherhood, and once you have a child the most important birthdays will become theirs. Well-meaning older people told me to enjoy them at the time because they grow up too fast, why didn’t I pay attention? They didn’t tell me about regretting time lost or frittered away. If I had it to do again I would work less and play more with my kids. To make up for our own birthdays becoming less significant we had a day all to ourselves called Mother’s Day. That’s a ‘time out’ day from whatever crisis is happening, about to happen, or just passing. Enjoy it, milk it, savour it, it’s only one day, make it count….
Marilyns age came and went and I couldn’t even imagine that I once thought that would be a good age to die. The thirties were a blur of working, raising kids, running my own businesses. I do remember getting close to forty and living my age, older by one year than I actually was, now how did that happen? I was somewhat upset about that, but I had a year to live again at the same age.
Then came my forties, oh my God it was official, once in your forties your life is half over. Why were the forties a blur as well? Work and raising teens, now there’s a job that will age you faster and take years off your life at the same time! I actually went through a mini ‘change of life’ mid-forties and painted the whole inside of my house. Dark green here, a russet colour there, bright yellow in the kitchen, orange downstairs and I just didn’t quit until I did the whole dam house, no wall was safe from my paintbrush. Whew, that felt so good. I would have knocked down a wall or two had I known how too. It still feels good to relive that painting experience. (dark green became the rage three years later)
The big Five-O was the most traumatic birthday of my life, the tears and the melancholy were almost unbearable. How did I get so old so fast? Where had the time gone, those older people were right, my kids were grown up and when did that happen? Another strange thing was happening along the way, how is it our parents were getting younger as we were getting older? Oh yes, we were catching up with them. My fifties passed while I was in a holding pattern. Life happened around me and I felt the best part of it was gone and something was missing. I was very unhappy with my life but lacked the courage to change it. Always working, not working was not an option, and being self-employed running a business is the hardest work of all your because your job is never done.
Oh, sweet sixty.. I actually celebrated this birthday with a sense of relief. I was finally free of perceived hang-ups and protocols and there are NO RULES when you turn SIXTY! You are on your own, you are officially an old person, free to express your opinion about anything and everything. I was free to be myself, I finally quit caring what anyone thought and more importantly, I started to make changes in my life. The changes started off small, my outlook on life had me chart a new course. Before I knew it I was out of my holding pattern and I was controlling my own destiny. I said goodbye to my marriage of forty years. Sold the family business to the kids, moved into a condo, and started to explore the world. Today is the anniversary of my freedom, it is also my birthday. Now how was I to know, all those years ago, that my sixties was going to be the best age of my life? I am so excited for the year ahead, happy birthday to me!