I turned sixty today. And I have to admit I'm having a tiny problem with this milestone. First, let me state how incredibly grateful I am to be here in my life: healthy, happily married, kids grown with lives of their own, grandchildren, my dogs. BUT, I'm SIXTY!! The voice in my head keeps screaming, "I can't be sixty! Mom is sixty. Sixty is OLD! I can't possibly be that old, it all went way too fast! HELP!"
I tried to quiet that voice as soon as I crawled out of bed this morning. After looking in the mirror and realizing those gray strands had been very busy multiplying overnight, I grabbed the box of color on my bathroom counter and got started straight away. (Really I'd been procrastinating the color thing because its messy and smelly, and well, because I'm a procrastinator.)
I checked my phone, 730, to make sure I had enough time to complete this process before my granddaughter called at 830 for a ride from her sleepover at a nearby friend. We had planned to spend the day together. Sure enough, as I squeezed the last bit of color from the bottle, my phone rang - my granddaughter, Madison. I left the house with the smelly, messy color in my hair and honked the horn in the driveway, waiting for my granddaughter to emerge. I did have a wicked thought: knocking on the door in my present state just to see the look of horror on my thirteen-year-old granddaughter's face, but I'm not that kind of grandmother.
After finishing the color and showering I headed to the farmers market anxious for this seasons first crop of strawberries. My granddaughter opted to go back to bed rather than accompany me on my errands. (Teenagers!) As I stepped up the curb at the market my sandal caught and I tripped, my first sixty-year-old trip, my purse flew from hand, contents scattered along the sidewalk. I did the casual sideways glance that all fall victims do, checking to see who witnessed my klutzy move. No one there. Whew...or so I thought.
I purchased the strawberries and wandered around the market, enjoying the beautiful weather, trying to pretend I wasn't feeling sick. My denial ended when I had a coughing spasm that made me feel like I swallowed fire. I headed to the drugstore, scanned the shelves, found what I was looking for, and quickly headed to check out. There, I was approached by a woman who said, "Excuse me Ma'am, did you know you have a large hole in the back of your pants?" I was horrified as I realized it probably happened during my old lady trip up the curb. (My apologies to everyone at the farmers market! Oh, the visual: hacking up a lung with your ass hanging out!) I exited that store as fast as my sixty-year-old legs would go.
OMG, I thought, is this what sixty is going to be? Tripping, ripping your pants without realizing it and walking around oblivious with your ass hanging out? Then I heard my phone ding. I had a voice mail from my mom. She sang, Happy Birthday, in her message. She told me that she couldn't believe I was sixty, when she was only sixty-five! She told me that she loved me and wished me a wonderful day!
I cried when I heard her message, so thankful that I missed her call. My mom is not sixty- five, she's eighty-one. You would never know that from looking at her or talking to her, but she is. She is extremely social, still has her sharp sense of humor, her outspokenness, and her generous spirit. She still never sits still. She is what my sister and I call, "a clean freak" a term that she accepts as a compliment. She's quite the gossip (I mean this in the nicest way, mom) and always knows what is going on in the lives of those around her. Because she cares. Because if you need anything she's the first one to come knocking on your door.
Inside myself I can see some of my mother: her outgoingness, her outspokenness, her bossiness. (I am an oldest child after all) Unlike her, I'm quite comfortable sitting on my ass doing nothing for long periods, and, except for the precision "towel folding" thing, my mother's passion for cleanliness has escaped me. (Otherwise, I'd be vacuuming up the "tumbleweeds" of dog hair lingering in every corner instead of writing, and for that I'm grateful.)
As much as I hate getting older, I really hate my mother getting older. She lives in Florida now, and I only see her once a year. Every year I can see how she's aged; it makes me feel like a little girl afraid of losing her mommy. When I listened to my birthday voicemail, I realized that on every one of my future birthdays I will be able to hear my mom singing me happy birthday! I can always hear her voice say, "I love you!" What a priceless 60th birthday gift!
Maybe sixty won't be so bad after all.