Birthdays, Gratitude, and the Significance of 5-0

I turned 50 this week.

The number doesn’t bother me. I consider every year – no, every day- to be a blessing. As folks like to say, “Celebrating another birthday is better than the alternative!”

But I do find it to be odd, mostly because my mother’s 50th birthday is the first “zero” birthday of hers I remember. Obviously, when she turned 30 I was a child. When she turned 40, I was 19 and in college. But for her 50th birthday I surprised her with a trip to Disney World and Bradenton, FL, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training site.

That intergenerational crossing is strange. To think that I am now the same age as my mother was when we took that trip is, for lack of a better word, freaky.

Beyond that, the number is not troublesome. I appreciate the wisdom I have gained, even if I was often ungrateful in the moment. I am thankful to be in a place of doing what I love for a living. Writing is such a blessing – and I get to do it every day! Such a gift that is.

One of my favorite parts of getting older is that I am finally weary of thinking about ME ME ME. What about me? What about my feelings? What about what I want? The thought of it is, thankfully, so tiring to me now.

At the risk of sounding trite, the world is an amazing place when it is experienced through eyes and a heart that is no longer self-consumed. The beauty of creation can move me to tears. The simplicity inspires me. The consistency of the seasons challenges me live the same way, to be person my loved ones can count on.

The people with whom I share this journey, whether for a moment or lifetime, are the source of the most amazement. It is easy to say everyone has a story, everyone has hurts, fears, experiences that shape their life. But I am continually humbled by the challenges some folks have each day, the tragedies some have experienced, the heartaches some of faced.

Half of my lifetime ago, I lived with my beloved Grandmother as she battled and eventually succumbed to congestive heart failure. For a number of reasons, the lessons were mostly lost on me at the time. One of the benefits of age is the opportunity to reshape how the past is viewed. I have an appreciation for the pain and the loss of dignity she endured. And while I still wish I could see her face again, I hear her voice and feel her presence, with increasing strength and clarity.

But , in the shadow of this milestone birthday, I stand in awe of this: There are people who have loved me for every one of those 50 years . Some friends have loved me for 15,20,25 years. And I have loved each of them. That is a treasure beyond compare. Knowing that a person accepts and loves me through all circumstances is a gift that makes me stronger, gives me courage, allows me to take chances knowing I have a safety net.

That is a reason to celebrate being 50!