Sunday, November 3, 2013

59 and Still Counting…

Yep, today I became 59 years old.  Odd, I don’t feel any differently than I did a day ago, I don’t even think I feel any differently from what I felt a year ago, or have I forgotten?  I can’t remember.  

I look at my children now, 35 and 33 years old and I’m amazed that I could possibly have children in their mid-thirties.  I remember being in my mid-thirties like it was yesterday, or does it seem like another life ago?  I remember I was given a surprise 30th birthday party and I got hit in the face with a cream pie by our church’s youth minister.  I was given a lovely surprise birthday roast when I turned 40 by all of my Midland friends. That was the same weekend Steve asked me to marry best birthday of all!!

30th Birthday after the pie in the face

40th Birthday Roast

The telephone just rang, it was a recorded message asking me to participate in a survey for senior citizens, did they get the wrong number?  Am I really a senior citizen?  I don’t yet qualify for senior discounts at movie theaters.  I can’t sign up for Medicare yet.  I was able to get the shingles vaccine, but that’s because they changed the age last year from 60 to 50 years old.

Another birthday that stands out in my memory was my 10th birthday.  I wanted nothing except a pair of royal blue stirrup stretch pants (leggings today) and the album of “The Sound of Music.”   I remember pulling those bright blue stretch pants over my boney birdlike legs, draping a towel over the back of my head and taking my record player into the backyard.  I plugged my little red portable turntable into an outside outlet, turned that volume up and stood spinning in large circles, arms wide, in the middle of the yard.  There I was, Maria von Trapp, a nun in towel, singing every word from “The Sound of Music” as if I were Julie Andrews on top of that Austrian mountain top.  I still remember all the words of those songs today.

Several nights ago I pulled my hair back in a clippy and had washed my face.  As I took the towel away from my face I was taken aback at the image staring back at me.  For a brief moment, as I stood there hair back, without make-up, looking at a very young Janet of about 8 or 9 years old.  I watched motionless for a moment staring at my young self as memories of myself as a child surged through me.  

Minnie Mama always gave me a Toni Perm...oh the smell!

I felt a certain sadness for a small awkward little girl that seemed too thin, too quiet, too bland for the world around her.  I felt a warmth for the formidable childhood memories this young girl had.  I pictured my bedroom, remembering the little printed flowered wallpaper and my puffy pink bedspread that I would burrow into.  I remembered being a little older, the wonderful memories of our family’s lake house grew vivid in my mind.  What fun summers we spent skiing, swimming and simply enjoying simple summers there.

7th grade with my sister, Barbara

Brent and Brooke also grew up spending summers at that same lake house.  My thoughts skipped decades as I remained still in front of my reflection.  A smile grew in my heart as I thought of teaching each of my children to waterski, of my father, their Papaw, taking them on bear hunts and following Indian trails and other great adventures through the piney woods Texas.  
Brent & Papaw

Thinking of my father, my mind traveled to the times I enjoyed with my parents in their older years at that lake home.  They were frailer then, our times together were more placid in those last years.  We would sit out on the large sloping front lawn and look out at the lake and talk about everything and nothing.  They are both gone now, as is that beloved lake spot.

I looked at my reflection and I came back to the present.  Where did those 59 years go?  Has my life been worthwhile?  Have I done anything of value or legacy?  I certainly can’t compare myself to someone like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, or Einstein as I would fail greatly as a person of worth and value in this life of mine.  So have I had a good life?  Have I evolved from that awkward, shy, child with little self-esteem, and if I have, how did I get where I am now?  Am I okay with this middle-aged woman staring back at me?

I don’t know if I have answers to all the questions that caught me so off guard that night, but what I do know is that I am good with who I am.  I like being 59 years old, I wouldn’t want to go back to 19 or 29 or 49 (I skipped 39 because that’s the year I met Steve).  I love that I have adult children of my own.  I am proud of them for who they are, for what they stand for, for the love that we all have for one another.  If I have done anything of value and worth in my entire life it has been giving birth to Brent and Brooke, they are my finest legacy.

Are there things I would have done differently if had the opportunity?  Of course, but maybe not...because each part of my life, whether good or bad, tragic or thrilling has caused me to become the person I am today.  While my life hasn’t been perfect, it’s been a good, an excellent life and I hope that, God permitting I will to continue to be able stand in my backyard with a towel draped down the back of my head and sing at the top of my lungs...

“Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
'Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.”

Oh Julie, where are you when I need you?