Yep, today I turned fifty years old. In reality, this isn't as momentous as it has historically been, most of us remain vital, productive and healthy folks at this age. It measures us, against our own expectations, I suspect as much as anything, to see how we have done so far in life. We revel, some to celebrate a life well lived, others, perhaps, to hide the now undeniable loss of our youth, with drink, food, cake and excess, others seek family and the joy of drawing our lives about us.
Over the years, my parents, like so many parents, moved to the side and made the day all about me, truly, as I look back, I realize the greatest gift was their daily selflessness shown symbolically by this once a year act. For truly, it is their day to celebrate, to see their child grow and mature, to discover, learn and grow wiser. She was heroic, not in some exaggerated comic book style, but, in the subtle every day nurturing and the knowledge that every day there was someone that loved me as only a mother can.
I am certain that my mom had her moments of doubt that I would ever grow wiser. It has been 13 years since I could share this day with her, the cruelest fate of our birthday, that eventually we will soldier on, celebrating our birth, missing so keenly that most cherished person, who made this very day posible. And yet, I carry her lessons, wisdom and love forward, never being very far from her indeed.
It has been just three years since my dad and I shared this day. Our day. For, my entire life, I shared my birthday with my dad. He would have been 87 today. I am not sure how to explain how 'cool' I thought having our day every June 10 was, to share this most intimate day of the year with my dad. when I was young, I thought he was a hero, stronger, smarter and tougher than anyone else's dad. Then time and hormones took it's eventual tax, he became mortal, a good man, but time takes a little boy's innocence.
As my mom's life was ebbing, and I was caught in the need to earn a living, build a company, live a little, I was despairing that her needs for care was overwhelming me. And he came back, not the mortal man, my dad the hero. It was late winter, a very difficult time for the elderly, especially the heart weak. He showed up at my office, having ridden the bus down. He gave up a lifetime of smoking and beer, he gave up being free to fish, he gave up his freedom. He came back and spent the next 4 years never more than a few feet from my mom.
There is a bittersweet flavor to this day, I guess that is what our lives become, a lovely complexity of life lost to time, of promise yet fulfilled and that small joy of this moment.
Happy Birthday Mom and Dad, thank you for the most wonderful and glorious gift of life.