I’m all about celebrating birthdays these days.
Just not my own.
There’s something mildly disconcerting about folks generations younger gathering to honor one’s rich life experiences, when they’re really just thinking how darn glad they aren’t old and wrinkled like you.
Which is why I told the kids I don’t want a birthday party this year.
Fortunately, my daughters, in their quest to celebrate my many years of wisdom, insist I don’t know what I’m talking about.
“YOU have to celebrate your birthday, Mom, so WE don’t have to deal with guilt some day.”
And so, they talked me into having a quiet girls-only family get-together. It turned out to be a very nice evening. Mostly we sat around watching the baby granddaughters delight us with their amazing abilities to crawl on all fours under the weight of hair bows the size of satellite dishes.
The thing about birthdays, if you acknowledge them, you also have to acknowledge that still-full bucket list, which once included climbing Mount Rainier and now centers on hiking up Johnson Mound before my knees totally give out.
Want to know what I find most unnerving? After celebrating yet another grand milestone, weird things begin showing up in the mail.
It started with the much-dreaded AARP invitation. Those have been arriving at a steady pace for over a decade now. All of which get tossed into the garbage, along with those checks for a million dollars I keep winning in sweepstakes.
I’ve also received myriad brochures this time of year touting everything supplemental – from life insurance to health care programs – that I simply can’t face my geriatric future without.
But the mail that arrived after this most recent birthday was far darker.
Several came from “retirement” places. I’m not talking about some nice Sun City sort of place where I could spend my twilight playing golf and Bunco with a bunch of ladies who had never climbed a mountain either but sure knew their way around outlet malls.
No, these brochures came from honest to gosh old-folks homes. The kind that include assisted living wings and other units for residents not able to chew their food.
These went into the garbage, as well.
I may not be able to climb Rainier, but I’m not exactly ready for pureed carrots.
Besides, the same daughters who forced me to celebrate yet another year closer to sundown are the same children who PROMISED they would NEVER put me into one of those homes. (The sons, by the way, remain mute on that point, and I’ve not quite mustered up the courage to ask why).
But the second piece of information that showed up in my mailbox was even more disturbing: a lovely off-white envelope accented with purple-hued angel wings.
Inside: an invitation to plan for my cremation. With expert help, of course.
The selling point was the same as offered by the other unsolicited birthday letters: Bringing me peace of mind.
So why do they only make me more anxious?
What made this last piece of mail particularly disturbing was that just two days earlier I had instigated a discussion with a few of my children about that very topic.
Not because I wanted to ease their burden or have a serious talk about my remains. It was more a conversation sprung from curiosity as to whether the kids would make sure I had as nice a grave as our beloved dog Lucy, now resting eternally in spectacular fashion in the backyard.
OK, I understand I’m burying my head in the sand about burying my bones in the ground. And yes, I do get why it’s much better to plan for tomorrow when I can still sign my name today.
It’s not that I’m ignoring the inevitable. It’s just that, in my wisdom (which includes a strong desire to ignore the unpleasant) I’ve opted to wait until next year to plot my final days.
When I’m even wiser still.Tags: seniors