by Laura Strathman Hulka
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)
Today I turn sixty. Six-O. For some reason, in our society, the “0” birthdays (with, perhaps, the exception of 18 and 21) are the biggies. I vaguely remember 30 – I had two toddlers, so wasn’t too interested in tracking my life through age! 40, yeah, that was sort of a big deal. To me the top of “that” hill we all talk about going over. 50. Hmmm. No, not really a big deal, but a lot was going on in my life at 50, 51… first grandchild, born when I was 49. My mother moving in with us. Major surgery (total knee replacement, x 2) my husband’s bout with Prostate Cancer. I didn’t care about turning 50 as a number – was more concerned about SURVIVING 50!
Now I am turning 60. My children and grandchildren see me as “old.” I don’t remember thinking about my mother that way when she was 60 – my mother always seemed vivid and vital and alive. I thought when I turned 60, my life would be mellow, laid back, easier… NOT! There have been great changes in my life in the last 5 years. A major move back to my home-state, my own struggle with Endometrial Cancer. I have always been aware of human frailty, and my own mortality. I really believed that Mark Twain was right about age.
So what is different in this day? Is the sky any less blue? My love for my husband of 38 years any less true? No, of course not. Life is a lot harder than I expected it to be; less money, mediocre health, fewer contacts with my grown children… And yet, somehow, Life is a lot easier than I expected it to be as well; fewer highs and lows, more dedication to hobbies and activities I enjoy, greater enthusiasm for each dawn, and each sunset.
I have learned to embrace the cliches – roll with the punches, not to let the little things bother me, to forgive and, hopefully forget, to sing in the rain and dance (at least metaphorically) with the fairies in the garden. I have learned to appreciate the friends that have stuck with me on this journey, and let go of the friends that couldn’t grow old with me. I have learned that perhaps my greatest gift to myself, and to others, is the ability to laugh at the good, the bad, and the ugly.I am a rather curious person.I like finding out about new things, meeting new people, exploring new ideas.
And I have discovered that there is richness in 60… from the gentle touch of lavender in my garden, with its wafting scent, to a smile from my husband, for no reason at all except because. Happy Birthday to Me!
Laura describes herself: “In a nutshell: Curious, funny, reader, writer, Momma, Nana, happily married 38 years, baker, crafter, volunteer, pacifist, spiritual feminist, Rubenesque! Life’s an adventure!”