As it has every year since first I made my entrance into the world, another birthday is creeping up on me. In the dim, long-ago past, I suppose that was quite exciting—the anticipation, the suspense, the thrill of growing older.
For some time, however, the prospect of celebrating one more year added to the total has held no joy for me. I’d have been quite happy to stop observing birthdays way before now. On the big day, I don’t feel the slightest bit different than on the previous day, yet I’m supposed to feign happiness at reaching another milestone.
In truth, I feel neither happiness nor sadness about it. Relief, maybe, or gratitude, for still being around. But the actual number is of no concern.
Fortunately, my adult family members know how I feel, so the day is long past when they unveil a surprise party, or present me with airline tickets to a destination of my choosing, or arrange for me to be serenaded by a cadre of bored, atonal servers in a fancy restaurant.
Even my five grandchildren lost interest when they realized there’d be no goodie bags—such as they receive at their friends’ birthday parties—if they came for dinner to honour the completion of another year along my journey.
As I said, I’m not unhappy about any of this, nor am I fearful of growing older. Aging is just the way of things, after all. I prefer to think of life as an uninterrupted voyage from womb to…wherever. The fact that I travel ever more slowly as the years unwind is immaterial; the crossing continues until it doesn’t.
One of my pals is fond of saying, “I plan to live forever. So far, so good!” I love his optimism.
Other friends who might have espoused the same sentiment are gone, however, perhaps surprised by the ending of their travels, perhaps relieved. An analogy I’ve heard expressed is that of riding a train, being joined along the way by fellow-travelers, some of whom will disembark ahead of me along the way, some of whom will still be aboard when, at some point, I shall have to get off.
The best part of getting older is the humour that accompanies it, some of it self-deprecating, some of it kindly (I choose to think) foisted on me by family and friends.
It’s better to be over the hill, Dad, than buried under it!
I agree wholeheartedly. I welcome each day on top of the grass.
Growing up is inevitable. Growing old is optional.
Well, in spirit, anyway.
Studies show that people who keep having birthdays live longer!
I’ll drink to that!
You’re pushing eighty, my friend! Isn’t it getting heavy?
Only if I’m not going downhill!
You could ask for a recount!
Not sure they could count this high!
Not sayin’ you’re old, but if you were milk, I’d smell you before pouring a glass.
Okay then, think of me as a fine wine.
You’re only as old as you remember you are!
That’s the problem!
Getting old is like living in a haunted house…lots of unexplained noises and smells!
Ah, that explains it.
Keep your chins up, old pal!
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Getting older isn’t so bad, Dad. Consider the alternative!
If you haven’t grown up by now, Gramps, you don’t have to!
Amen to that!
Laughter certainly helps to cope with aging, even if only because I can claim my wrinkles are laugh-lines. In fact, one of my sisters-in-law has a plaque on her wall declaring, If you don’t have wrinkles, you haven’t laughed enough!
Anyway, my upcoming birthday will be quietly spent with the special someone who has already shared fifty-six of them with me, dating back to high school, and then we’ll continue on our merry way.
It really does come down to this—even if I didn’t enjoy growing older, I wouldn’t want to stop!