When do birthdays stop being a big deal? March 24 is the date of my birth, but I have lost all concept of how old I am. I was prepared to tell folks I had been around the sun 67 times, but that can’t be true because I got my Medicare card last year. Guess that makes me 66.
Back in 2011, I shared a whole page of photos of childhood landmarks in time. I was telling someone the other day that most people think of major milestones and identity crises in even-numbered years like 20, 30 and 40.
I had those periods of self-assessment at odd years, like 24, 27, 32, 57 and 60. Wife Lila would probably say that’s because I never use round numbers in the microwave: 2:16 for popcorn; and that I take naps that are 22-minutes long. (I learned a long time ago that accounting was less likely to question my expense reports if I used odd number like $6.13 or $12.47 because they assumed people who put down stuff like $6.00 or $12.50 were either guessing or making up items.)
Photo staff remembered my 30th
Wife Lila and the folks on the photo staff pulled off a surprise birthday party for my 30th. They were ostensibly gathering at the house to watch the last episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show on March 19, 1977, so I was surprised when they pulled out this photo of me in a gas mask covering riots at Ohio University that the staff had signed. Across the top, someone had scrawled, “HAPPY 30! If you’ve survived this far, you’re bound to make it the next thirty!”
Maybe that’s one of the reasons my 60th was so traumatic: I was afraid that someone had set my sell-by date with that headline. It’s also disconcerting to note that at least half of the people who signed the photo – some of whom were younger than me – are dead.
No respect by my 40th
By the time my 40th rolled around, the staff was a bit less respectful. We had a bunch of turnover in the department about that time. I won’t say this artwork had anything to do with it….
My 50th was a major blow-out at the office, an event attended by all of upper management, including my friend the H.R. Director. I thanked her, in particular, for the shindig since the jokes and gag gifts showed a definite prejudice against older workers, a protected group that I had just joined. My discrimination lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment would make it possible for me to retire to a life of ease, I warned.
I got high on birthday cake and forgave them at the last minute, unfortunately.
A traumatic 60th
Dad and his two brothers died on or before their 61st birthdays, so I was afraid my days were numbered. I told my staff that I would just as soon let the day pass unobserved. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry about it because I came down with some kind of cold or other ailment that I was sure was going to usher me to the Other Side, and I skipped a few days of work. On my birthday, just about the time I was feeling merely miserable instead of on death’s doorstep, the whole Steinhoff clan from three states knocked on the door and dragged me out for a bike ride.
Once I made it past 60, I decided that I had a few more good years left in me. That’s when I stopped doing the math and keeping score. When I wrack up as many Birthday Seasons as Mother, then I may start counting again.
That brings us to today
When I go to bed at night, I usually pull a shade at the head of the bed to keep the room cooler and darker so I can sleep late after staying up until 2 a.m. or so doing these posts. I forgot to do it on the 23rd, so I felt unusually warm when I started becoming conscious on my birthday.
“Maybe I didn’t make it to my birthday,” I thought. Not wanting to open my eyes and confirm my fears by getting dirt in them, I elected to go back to sleep.
About half an hour later, I was jolted awake by a brilliant beam of light. “Darn, maybe I made the cut after all,” crossed my mind. After straining my ears for several minutes listening for harp music that never came, I opened my eyes and saw the open shade.
Light was terrestrial, not celestial
I was much relieved to determine the brilliant light was terrestrial, not celestial.
Later in the day, the whole family gathered out at Son Adam’s to help him put some solar panels on his roof. I waved my Medicare card and was exempt from wrestling 4 x 12-foot panels in 23 mph (gusting to 45mph) winds, but I did get to make a bunch of trips up and down the ladders.
The family wasn’t sure I was capable of blowing out my cake candles, so they elected to serve it outside where the wind took care of extinguishing them for me.
Thanks to all my Facebook friends who left me birthday wishes, including those who were kind enough to add “you’re looking good,” something they never said when it was really true.
The next step is for them to say, “Don’t he look natural?”