Happy Birthday Kate. I won’t say your age on this post, just know I am dancing my secret dance with a smile on my face! This is for you. “psssstt.... 45.” I am whispering that last line.
Birthdays. Funny things. If you are a kid, good day! A little extra kindness from your teacher especially if you are that kid whose mom brought cup cakes for everybody. Middle ground, not so bad. Who doesn’t want to be in your 20’s? Or thirties and your forties are still really good. Then the big five - zero. That is when it takes just a moment longer to get up. You say things you swore you would never say when you were still cool and young. Things like “Dab nabbitt.” Or “phooey” Cool is so far in the rear view mirror! Going to bed before 9:30 makes other 50 year olds groan in anticipation.
Do you know at a restaurant the other day, the waitress asked me if I wanted the senior oatmeal? Maybe I deserved that because I did order Oatmeal for dinner. I have teeth. That would never have happened in my twenties. The word “heart burn” didn’t exist but in my stories. What happened? This summer I have my colonoscopy to look forward to. Life just gets better and better doesn’t it?
When the boys were little, I had them convinced that adults only have birthdays every other year. I was in my early thirties for almost a decade. The fun just is zipped away with each birthday. Then all of a sudden, the newspaper reporter shows up because you managed to stay alive another year. One of the readers and I have promised to run each other over if we get to a hundred. I doubt this will happen because I have not been the most health minded individual. One day those good times will certainly turn up. It will take me away. You have to go of something. That has always been my credo.
This drives my dad and Kate crazy. Being doctors, this reasoning makes them both wonder about any head injuries they don’t know about. But how can one know? Rob’s mom lived for her retirement plans. The little apartment she was going to live in at Clearwater beach, how she would spend every morning at the water’s edge. She had it all worked out. Then at the age of 46, she was tragically killed in a car accident. Those dreams? That little beach house? Not to be. She never saw one of her big dreams come true. To me, that is Shakespearian in irony. That is the true definition of calamitous. To go an entire lifetime without making one dream come true. I may go down in a ball of fire, but I promise I will not go with regrets. Not about the way I lived, the people I loved, or the joy I take in my family.
Remember the movie “Dead Poet’s Society?” “Oh Captain my captain”. The Walt Whitman poem about Lincoln’s death. They said this to the teacher who had been fired for showing the boys how vibrant life could be. Carpe Diem - seize the day. We write movies about this, books, art, all with that same theme. Sad that we would forget perhaps without the lives of the brave that made our dreams even possible. Poets don’t write poetry reminding us to eat. Imagine Whitman pondering what rhymes with constipation? No. But get him going on dreams and a life well lived? He couldn’t stop. We should not stop either. At least give it everything you have!
So Kate, you have seized the day with the way you have lived. I am so very proud of your job, how smart you are, how worldly you seem to me. How you understand things I just don’t. Happy birthday. I hope all your dreams come true! r