Extra Credit: What birthday are you looking forward to? Numerically, I mean.
I have a bad track record when it comes to birthdays. It seems that I hardly ever get through one without crying at some point. When I turned 49 in 2006, a series of misunderstandings at work resulted in everyone else eating my birthday lunch without me, and someone even started in on my birthday cake. I realize now that I didn't behave very well on that occasion, but it wasn't entirely without cause.
The right place, but not the Battle of Picacho Pass, 3/10/07
So when the time came to celebrate "the Big Five-O" in March 2007, I was determined to have a really good birthday for once. We made a long weekend of it, watching a Civil war reenactment at Picacho Peak, staying at a resort in Tempe, going to Organ Stop Pizza with its 6000-pipe theater organ, touring Taliesin West where Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked, and even taking a day trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad. Like every trip (and probably every birthday) it had its stresses, but it was a great trip and a great birthday, with no tears that I recall. (The biggest disaster was that I left all the printouts with the addresses and confirmation numbers sitting on my printer at home.) Apparently throwing money at a birthday, and insisting on a proper celebration, really can make a difference.
Fifty is a mildly daunting milestone. I'm almost certainly on the downward slide now: the second half of my life is underway. My dad, age 84, told me the other night that he's stepping down a second time as president of the local railroad museum, but will continue to be on the board there, helping to oversee the move to a new building across the parking lot. I'd love to be as healthy and active as my dad at 84, but my mom was dead at 75, and my dad takes better care of himself than I do. So I don't really expect to have a birthday like the one pictured above. This is my friend Eva at her 100th birthday party and family reunion. A week from now, Eva will be 102 years old, and as of a couple of days ago she was looking to move out of her daughter's place, back into an apartment of her own. Eva is remarkably independent in outlook, in lifestyle and, up to a point, in her ability to take care of herself. That's no doubt part of how she's lasted this long.
So yeah. Age 60 will be significant, and 65, and 70, and 75. But 100 - if I get that far - would be a real achievement. It would mean three things:
- I've finally learned to take better care of myself
- Medicine has advanced considerably since 2007, and
- I got lucky.