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LJ Idol, Season 1, Week 1, "Jayus"

Wow. My first LJ Idol post in years.

My 49th birthday card from my son read: “Happy 49th birthday. You’re halfway to 98.” I was unimpressed. I may have felt 98 years old when I got out of bed in the morning, knees creaking, ankles making clickity noises, bladder straining to get to the bathroom in time, but halfway to 98? Jeepers, that’s old. Yes, there were some crow’s feet around my eyes, a dent more ridge than wrinkle in the centre of my forehead, blue veins and stretch marks like paint streaks on my breasts, but I was still in my 40s, not yet reached the aridity of 50, that grand and ancient age. Still a kid, really. 49. No big deal. Halfway to 98? I whacked my son’s head with some wrapping paper and got on with it like it didn’t matter. Pretended that what he’d said wasn’t in the least a bite, a sting with the stinger left in, that every day I didn’t look in the mirror at those crow’s feet, that deep wrinkle, wondering if I’d live till 98, realizing that I was becoming a relic. All year long it bugged me. Damned kid.

My fiftieth birthday last summer brought flowers, far too many gifts, dinner at a nice steakhouse, and my annual alcoholic binge, where I order a pina colada and feel drunken and giddy from an ounce of rum. It also brought a fresh card, pretty and floral on the outside, ghastly when opened. It read: “To the world’s best mother on her 50th birthday. You’re halfway to dead”.

It was a good thing I was sauced on that rum when I read it. Halfway to dead. Meant as a joke, of course, but oh, my heavens, did it attack my innards, my heart, those prickly things behind the eyes that tingle when you’re about to cry. Halfway to dead. It meant I had less than half a lifetime left to live, that old age and disease and decrepitude were just around the corner. I hadn’t accomplished so many of my life’s goals, and now I was going to die.

All this rushed through my head in seconds. We went home and ate too much cake, with a side-order of too much lactose-free ice cream, and I tried, in a haze of chocolate fudge and vanilla, to forget the message, to recapture lost feelings of immortality, but all that happened was a stomach ache.

The sting of the card wore off, and over the next few months, I learned to look at my 50th as an opportunity. There’s so much left to do. I don’t do bucket lists, except perhaps mentally, but I’ve decided that I can’t die just yet. I’ve not been to Venice or to Istanbul, or on an African safari. I’ve not held a grandchild yet. Nor have I been to a rescue shelter and chosen for myself a large shaggy dog, full of the intent to knock over all of my ornaments with broad strokes of his excitedly-waving tail. I haven’t learned how to make a garden thrive. I’ve not met a member of the British royal family. I’ve not read all the books in the world yet, nor become a world-famous author, or had my photographs in their own show at a gallery, attended by celebrities all anxious to have my art upon their walls. Daydreams and possibilities, they’re all still there, and I have a lot of living to do before I shake off this mortal coil. That card was a wake-up call, and I’m grateful for it.

My son turned 22 two weeks ago. I bought him a card, which expressed the love and pride I had in him, the true pleasure that it is to be his mother. After I had signed and added the hugs and kisses, I wrote “happy halfway to 44”. He shrugged it off until I pointed out the mortgage he’d have, the car loans, the moody teenagers borrowing his car and neglecting to put gas in it, the start of graying hair, a wrinkle or two, perhaps the arthritis and diabetes that runs in the family line. “I don’t think I like this halfway thing anymore”, he told me, and I’m glad, because I don’t know what 51 is halfway to, and don’t want it on a card. My hopes are that it’s halfway to the grand old age of 102, or halfway to heaven, or halfway to reincarnation in a loving family that may or may not own a yacht, but I don’t know. What I do know is that the possibilities are endless.


( 56 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 17th, 2014 01:03 pm (UTC)
Lovely entry! I'm 53. I want a grandkids so bad....
Mar. 17th, 2014 01:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
I want grandkids too! But there's no chance of it in the near future, despite the fact that I have two kids in their 20s. (The other is 15.) Do you have any chance of a grandchild sometime soonish?
(no subject) - adoptedwriter - Mar. 17th, 2014 01:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - allie63 - Mar. 17th, 2014 02:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 17th, 2014 02:16 pm (UTC)
I loved this! Yes we need to look at the rest of our lives as opportunities for wonderful things!
Mar. 17th, 2014 02:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Nancy! I hope you have fun with all the opportunities you have left as well! Go wild!
Mar. 17th, 2014 05:56 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing it.
Mar. 18th, 2014 04:46 am (UTC)
Hi, there! Do you remember me? I used to be edith_jones long ago and way back when, and would love to add you back to my friends list.

Thank you for the comment. I enjoyed writing it and I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

On another note, how are you?!
Mar. 17th, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC)
Why can't we all just steal a TARDIS! Or at least regenerate into a newer, and perhaps younger self?

Thanks for a lovely story, and a great attitude about it!
Mar. 18th, 2014 04:47 am (UTC)
Do you remember the 70s TV show "Mork and Mindy"? Their child was born as an old man, and grew younger every day. That sounds like a good plan to me!

I'm glad you liked the story, thank you for your kind comments!
Mar. 17th, 2014 09:31 pm (UTC)
I refuse to believe that 50 is old- there's still a lot of living to do!
Mar. 18th, 2014 04:49 am (UTC)
Hi there!

Some days I just plain feel old, achy in every joint, and ready for retirement. Most days I'm young at heart, even if my body doesn't cooperate!

And yes, there's still a ton of living to do, and I'm going to have as much fun as I can in the time remaining to me, and learn everything possible while I'm at it!

Mar. 18th, 2014 01:42 am (UTC)
enjoyed this! great take.
Mar. 18th, 2014 04:50 am (UTC)
Wow, your icon is absolutely mesmerizing, but if I look at it any longer, I think I might get dizzy!

Thanks for your kind comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Mar. 18th, 2014 03:02 am (UTC)
Lovely entry. I think you ought to keep it up with the halfway cards for a while.... just to get the point across. ;)
Mar. 18th, 2014 04:51 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!

I may keep going with the birthday cards, but it really depends on what my son does on my 51st birthday. If he cuts it out, so will I!
Mar. 18th, 2014 03:02 am (UTC)
I'm 32, so I still have a ways to go *grin* I attended a funeral on Saturday of a well-known lady in our town that passed away celebrating her 106th year. Keep going and keep truckin'!
Mar. 18th, 2014 04:52 am (UTC)
Lucky you, being so young!

Not trying to outdo you at all, but I have a great-aunt who lived until she was 108.

And thanks!
Mar. 18th, 2014 03:11 am (UTC)
Ha! Way to show him :-)
Mar. 18th, 2014 04:52 am (UTC)
It did do the trick!
Mar. 18th, 2014 12:40 pm (UTC)
Haha..tables turned...:)..good work!
Mar. 18th, 2014 02:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Mar. 18th, 2014 01:07 pm (UTC)
Kids, think they know everything.
Mar. 18th, 2014 02:20 pm (UTC)
They do. Whereas the truth of it is, only I know everything! (I wish!)
Mar. 18th, 2014 01:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow, I really loved this. And your attitude is priceless. Nice work here.
Mar. 18th, 2014 02:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much for a comment that made me smile!
Mar. 18th, 2014 07:56 pm (UTC)
I liked this entry a lot. The writing and the perspective and the point.
Mar. 18th, 2014 09:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
Mar. 19th, 2014 02:04 am (UTC)
I enjoyed reading this. You have a lovely voice, and a gift for imagery.
Mar. 19th, 2014 02:17 am (UTC)
Thank you! What nice things to hear! I appreciate it very much!
Mar. 19th, 2014 04:00 am (UTC)
Ha, that's awesome. Sounds like how we used to treat Mom (longer ago than I care to admit)!
Mar. 19th, 2014 12:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I feel sorry for your mother! But honestly, my son and I have a great relationship, just sometimes he pushes it that little too far! :)
(no subject) - veronica_rich - Mar. 19th, 2014 01:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 56 comments — Leave a comment )