Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Celebrating Another Year

It's not just another day.  Today is my birthday.  As a child, I couldn't wait to get older. Each passing year was special. At least I thought so. Turning 10 was cool. Right? Double digits. Then, turning 16 meant you could get a driver's license. I was 18 when I started advocating for the right to vote. By the time that became a constitutional amendment, I was 21 and legal. I could vote and drink legally. At age 27, I became a first-time Mom. I was overwhelmed with parenting.  My child didn't come with an instruction manual. Somehow, life really began to change a lot more once I became a parent. Time took on a different meaning.

I still enjoyed birthdays and my 30th celebration was a huge BBQ bash in the backyard of our Bucks County home. I can still remember the crazy cake Edward had the bakery prepare for me. I also remember friends and family stopping by that day to join in the fun and I recall lots of presents. A year later, I welcomed my second child. Now birthday parties were the ones I planned for the kids. These were well thought out events -- with themes and special locations. Each party needed to be unique. I became an event planner and while I continued to celebrate my own birthday each year, it was not the same. Time had taken me into a different direction. The years were adding up and I was growing older.

When I was 48 years old  I heard the words not one wants to hear: "You have cancer." My life instantly became a "roller coaster, merry-go-round" and I was just trying to hang on to anything remotely resembling normal. At my 50th birthday celebration, I already knew that my cancer had spread to the lungs. I had gone through horrific surgery that spring, leaving me emotionally exhuasted and physcially a mess. By August 9 when we gathered at a local Italian restaurant to celebrate, I was happy to see dear family and friends. It was no longer a question of another year of growing older or a different age I had to recall. I was now much more aware of the real meaning of celebration. I knew how special it was to be alive... to be able to enjoy another birthday. I would no longer take birthdays for granted. This day each year would now be extra special to me.

Ed, Brian, Adrienne and Jason all planned a special celebration for my 60th birthday. I had mentioned my dream of visiting Hawaii. While that was not meant to be, they came up with Plan B. We went to Disney's Polynesian Resort for its Luau. I spent an incredible evening dining on delicious food and watching a Polynesian revue that featured talented performers. It felt like I was in the Islands. My family knew how much I needed to celebrate. It wasn't that I was growing older. I didn't really think much about being 60. I felt great! It was a number. What they understood was that I had to find a way to make the day stand out from other days. For me, August 9 was a real day to jump up and down for joy. It was meant to be special. Time was now being measured in moments -- treasured experiences that would create memories.

Here it is ... August 9, 2016 and I am 64 years old. If I were still working I would be very close to retirement. I spent a wonderful time last night with Brian. We dined at bosphorous, a top-rated Turkish restaurant in Winter Park. Afterwards, we enjoyed a stroll around the park. The evening was perfect. Today, I'll enjoy some freebies ... such as picking up my subs at Jersey Mike's and Firehouse. I will also savor my brunch at Denny's with Adrienne where I will get my Grand Slam meal. I may also head over to Tropical Smoothie for my free smoothie. (Still trying to find room in my tummy and refrigerator for all the goodies I'll get for free in the next few days and weeks. I love getting all the birthday stuff. Already did my visits to Moes's and Steak and Shake.)

For me it is all about the celebration. A number is a number. I don't feel any different. (My pain in the neck is still a pain.)  However, celebrating another year is awesome! My perception of time may have changed over the years, but my appreciation of life and enjoying another birthday... that's priceless.