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This is what fifty-six looks like. It’s actually not much different than what fifty-five looked like yesterday. Although this is fifty-six first thing in the morning. Unadorned. Unmade up. Unconscious. This is what I asked for – to sleep in, and I got it – after a fashion.

fifty-sixYes, I got up at 6:00 to feed the cat and give him his insulin. Yes, I made my younger son’s lunch and hugged him before he left. I also opened my first birthday present (from him). Then I went back to bed. Yes, I woke up to answer my older son’s birthday text. Then I went back to sleep. Yes, I woke up to answer my hubby’s text, saying he was on his way home. That was two hours ago so I’m not sure where he disappeared to. He’ll turn up soon.

Fifty-six sticks in my head because I remember learning my multiplication tables when I was in elementary school. For some reason 8 x 7 was a hard one for me. To help me remember the answer, I recall my mother using a rhyme. She said, “My dog, Fido can do tricks. Eight times seven is 56.” Yes, that silly rhyme has stuck with me almost 50 years later. ‘Do tricks’ indeed.

Fifty-six marks another milestone for me – a sad one. My Father died when I was 28. This year he will have been gone for 28 years. He’s been gone half of my life now. It doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. Time does march on.

Time was simpler when I came along. I was born in 1959 so I just made the 1950’s decade. Life itself was simpler back then. We shopped at the Five and Dime – either Woolworth’s, Kresge’s or Neisner’s. We could buy clothes, housewares, linens, tropical fish, plants, candy and more. When we tired of shopping, we grabbed a stool at the lunch counter (in the same store) and had a sandwich, a float, an ice cream sundae or a milkshake. A big weekday outing (before school) was the bank, the post office or the grocery store. We spent time at the library, and we borrowed books. There was no such thing as computers, the internet or downloading. My Mother was my idol, and I aspired to someday be just like her. In my child’s mind, women did not work. My Aunt worked, but that was because she was divorced. I thought when I grew up, I’d marry and be a housewife. That was all I ever wanted. TV was Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, and the Wonderful World of Disney – all usually watched at Gramma and Grandpa’s house – either a Friday evening or a Sunday evening. We usually spent those nights at Gramma’s house. TV at my house was shows my Dad enjoyed – Combat or Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. If you didn’t like what was being watched, you went and played in your room, or you read a book. Kids didn’t control the entertainment. My Mom sat up late watching the Johnny Carson Show. When I had time off from school, it was a special treat to sit up late with her and watch the old comedians or actors and actresses that Johnny was interviewing. Vacations were family camping trips – usually centered on a body of water where Grandpa and Dad could go out fishing in Grandpa’s boat. We kids usually spent our vacations running up and down, getting bitten by mosquitoes and sun burned. We usually never went any farther away than the Thousand Islands. I never went to Disneyland or Disneyworld, and I never wanted to.

Fifty-six. I’ve been married for most of my adult life, and I’m also fast approaching the point in time where I can say I have been married as long as I was single. Being single wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I had lots of fun with my cousins, but once everyone started going their separate ways, being single was lonely at times. Being married and sharing my life and love with my best friend is much better than single ever was. It completes me to know that someone has my back and understands me like he does. We don’t see each other as often as I’d like since he started driving a truck, but hearing his voice on the phone makes my day every day. Saying “I love you” is very important to both of us. I also am blessed to know the joy of motherhood, having experienced the miracle of birth twice. I am Mom to two fantastic young men who I am also thrilled to call good “friends” as well as my children. They are polite, funny and kind, and I am proud to call them mine.

Fifty-six is a day for celebrating. I always take my birthday off from work. Do I ever do anything exciting? Occasionally. Even if I never leave the house, it’s a day to reflect, regroup and recharge. Have I stuck with the New Year’s resolutions I made a month ago? Nope. Do I hope to get back to them? Of course I do. Am I happy where I am in life? Very much so. Was I thrilled to see all the birthday messages and greetings waiting for me in my email in-boxes when I woke up today? Most definitely so. I am blessed to have friends and family, near and far. Thank you, everyone. You made this fifty-six year old’s day just a little bit brighter and a little bit happier.