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  Wednesday August 20th, 2014    

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Happy Birthday (12/02/2012)
By Frances Edstrom


     
Is anyone else in a panic about 2012 being almost over? It seems 2012 has somehow become both one of the longest and one of the shortest years of my life! If this is what aging does to a person’s perception of time, I’m not liking it!

I remember when it seemed a year was at least as long as half of my entire life. (Actually it was only a tenth of my life, or so.) It seemed that the period from December to December (my birthday month) stretched as far as from here to the moon.

My granddaughter, Andie, Morgan and Dan’s second child, has been looking forward to her birthday in January since last January, hoping to catch up to her older sister, of whom she is alternately jealous and in awe. Finally, her parents softened the frequent message of “you won’t turn four until January” by counting her age in fractions. “You are now three and three-quarters!” She repeated that to everyone she encountered who asked her age, and many of those who didn’t. Now she is three and five-sixths, which is hard to say, but she manages it.

I was young for my grade in school, which always rankled me. I was the last to get a driver’s license, the last to be able to enter a bar legally. As soon as I turned twenty-one, though, it became clear to me that being younger was going to become an advantage, if only among my high school and college classmates. (I know, I’m pathetic, but I cannot say that age is unimportant to me, or to them!)

Suddenly, however, I am entering that certain age group—the one that everyone (except me!) just calls old age. I am devastated. Old age describes my mother-in-law, who is a ripe old 101 (and a half). How is it that suddenly I am in the same age group as she?

Just the other day, I was given a ride by a car dealership employee in an enormous pickup truck. It was huge, with gigantic wheels. When I had a little trouble hoisting myself into the passenger seat (come on, there was nothing to grab on to!), the young driver apologized, saying, “I just never know what vehicle to bring when I’m transporting an elderly person.”

I held my temper. I didn’t scream, “Elderly! Who are you calling elderly, you little twit!” I was really nice, and changed the subject, just like an elderly person would. Later on, I kicked myself for being so docile. Am I having a personality change now that I am (shudder) old?

It’s also disconcerting when people ask how long I’m going to continue working. I mean, why not ask when I intend to die? I like what I do. What else would I do? Stay home and peel apples and bake cookies in hopes the grandchildren come to visit the old lady?

Aw, jeez. There I go, sounding off. At least I’m not crying, like I did on my fortieth birthday. Poor John found me standing in front of the mirror on my fortieth birthday, sobbing.

“What’s wrong honey?” he asked. He probably thought I was mad because he’d forgotten my birthday, but I was used to that. I’m glad I had daughters, whose job it is to remind their fathers of important dates.

“I just thought that when I turned forty, I’d be rich and famous and wouldn’t have to work this hard!” I cried. Now that I think of it, that is a perfectly ridiculous thought. But at least I waited twenty years, and didn’t feel that entitled on my graduation day.

He was very nice and gentle, actually said some very endearing things, and avoided all the many pitfalls that men encounter when soothing crying women. I got over it, naturally, and regained my usual optimism and happiness. Sort of.

As my birthday approaches, I feel it creeping up on me, like a preying panther on an unsuspecting poodle. 

 

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