Sunday, March 25, 2012

Celebrating Milestones Is A Personal Choice

We all have them. Birthdays, ah that glorious day we were born! That day is forever the mark of milestone moments  - sweet 16, becoming 'legal' at 21, and of course, turning 30, 40, 50 and beyond, and are reasons worth celebrating. However the higher the 'age' number, the more unfavorable growing older seems.

Who hasn't heard the 'over the hill' reference at any fiftieth birthday party? Is that commiseration or a penalty for the birthday recipient?  It's like banishing them to an imaginary place where their life is compared to climbing a moutnain and they have arrived at the top!

Age is something to be celebrated. How long we live is usually a strong definitive fact about a person, followed by how that person lived ... who they are and what they've accomplished in their life.

I remember my father turning fifty. I was 18, and 50 as an age, seemed a long way off. At the time, my parents had been divorced six years and dad was busy 'reinventing' himself. He had begun to date and in doing so changed the direction of his life.

My son will be 18 this year, and I'll be fifty-five. I wish my dad were here to see Connor's growth, and college bound accomplishments. Dad passed away four days before his 75th birthday, but thankfully there was time between them for a memory of grandpa to form.

My dad and Connor enjoy a laugh. This was the last time we saw dad and (grandpa for Connor) it was a happy occasion.

Connor's grandmother is celebrating her 80th birthday and we commemorated this great happening with an authentic Slovak dinner at Zlata Praha, a Czech restaurant in Astoria, New York. The cuisine was delicious -  duck, sauerbraten, goulash, stuffed cabbage, all served by Czechs. Marie, the birthday lady, translated for us when she and the waitress exchanged words in their own language.

Connor and Grandma Marie 

Dinner conversation turned to a disparity between actual age and how a person feels. It was unanimous, the focus on younger years is preferable to any present day's aches and pains. I feel 40 in my mind even though my body tells me differently!

I was named after my grandmother, Margaret.
Pictured are the two of us in her backyard in 1982.
Age is a funny thing. Sometimes it's anticipated with excitement, and sometimes regret. Whatever the number is, age represents your life.

Birthdays prompt annual rituals that lead to nostalgia. I think back to my own grandmother's life and realize her world was completely different than most women's today.

Margaret, my grandmother, remained in the home her entire life, unlike Marie, who worked during her young years on a farm, and then here in the states as a sewing machine operator in a yarn factory. Both women immigrated from Europe, Margaret from Italy and Marie from Czech.

Attitude and approach to life is a personal choice of either anticipation or reservation. It's up to you to embrace the years and do with them what you like to do or the alternative - just settle for survival without reaching for the possibilities.

The Gang 
I like remembering my father and a choice he made - to reach for the goodness in life. He didn't focus on aches and pains and both Marie and Margaret are the same way. I'm sure they have them ... who doesn't as you get older?

Happy 80th to, as we say in my family, Mom, Grandma and Marie!

Do you feel your age and are you living your best life?


  1. Wonderful post, my mama recently turned 87, I help her some but she is very lively and gang ho. She is just learning to celebrate life, I have been counselling her some in the forgiveness area. In helping her I have recognized and healed much about myself and I now celebrate much more than ever.

    1. Jan - so true about keeping lines of communication open with family. Better to work things through than hold onto hurt or unresolved feelings. That journey is worth taking! Thanks for reading!

  2. I watch my parents at 86 and 84 and hope that I can be as positive, active and in love with life as they are. I'm 46 but don't feel it - my body does at times - but my mind is young and I want to stay that way! Loved this post, Margaret - thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures of your family - what memories!