Today, I turned fifty-five. Nothing unique in that except as life has shown most recently, some of us are not that lucky. I celebrated Saturday with a party at home that also included the up and coming birthdays of some friends and acquaintances. There were fifteen or so and initial reports indicate a wonderful time was had by all. Can't beat that for a gift...
Normally not one for parties, I was persuaded by a longtime friend to do this as an antidote to recent events and decided to open my home so that both I and her son, who also uses a wheelchair, could have the certainty of accessible bathroom facilities should that be necessary. She was thrilled that her son and daughter-in-law could come and they added to the festive event.
Birthdays for me have always been a time of reflection and in recent years, gratitude, for the friends and other parts of my life that I hold dear. I was born prematurely to a mother who was too young and who experienced much in her life, including an early divorce, finding and losing the love of her life and dying before sixty of metastatic lung cancer. Though she and I were often like two gathering storms, I loved her and would not be in this world but for her and the love of her parents which got us both through some tough spots when I was young.
Told by doctors that I would probably not survive beyond delivery, my mother, who had lost her first daughter barely one year before I was born, faced an uncertain future. The practicality and tenacity of her working parents pushed her to return to college. She was the first in her family to acquire a university education and went on to support us both and eventually, to marry the man she described as the love of her life. He and she could be aptly dubbed complicated in both personality and temperament. While our family life was not always smooth, I had no doubt that they loved each other or me.
My maternal grandparents also forged strong bonds with me. The older I have the fortune of becoming, the more I appreciate the lessons and values they imparted. This is particularly true of my grandfather who rarely met a stranger, was honest and hardworking, generous, kind and patient.
Today, I am thinking of all of them and offer a prayer of thanks, that in the midst of all of the sorrow, loss and unexpectedly ruptured relationships I have endured over the last months, I am still here with much to give and be grateful for, including the very special friend who convinced me to open my home and heart this weekend.
Until Next Time...