Monday, February 25, 2008

"They say it's your birthday"

Me in 1948

It's hard to walk through the landscape with no footprints to follow.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The year beginning on February 25, 2007 has been an unusual one for me. Even without consciously thinking about it, I was aware each day that 59 was my mother's last year on earth. She never reached this age of 60. I can look back in her diary or in the old photo albums and see how she was living at certain ages, but not past 59. How do I know what to do? How do I figure out where to go and what path to follow without her guidance, her example?

Thankfully, I do have my mother-in-law, who turned 80 yesterday. She says it feels pretty good to be 80. She has great health, plays tennis and golf and swims and walks and goes to Curves and voted for Obama! She and her husband go out way more than Tom and I do. :<) And I have a cousin who turned 80 a month ago who is also my role model. She is always on the go. She travels and goes to the gym every day and is joyous about life. (She gave me the gorgeous tulips on the blog header!) So, though I do not have my mom, I have these two wonderful women showing me the way to age beautifully.

I am blessed with my family and friends. The celebrations are going on all week. They began with our waffles and cocktails the other night. Yesterday after church we had brunch with our son and his girlfriend at a great new restaurant. Tonight our daughter, her boyfriend, and some friends are coming over. Later in the week, we'll go out to dinner with friends at 'our' restaurant where we always celebrate our birthdays. I am grateful beyond words.

Happily, I am still close to my five best friends from childhood. Anne emailed me recently and said:

I am going to try and welcome becoming sixty this year.

I love that. We should, and really must, welcome each year, and indeed each day. If there is a secret to happiness, that may well be it.

And Peggy emailed me this morning and said:

I'm right behind you and as you know it happened to S. (her husband) last summer and the world didn't stop turning or anything.

And that's right. The sun came out. My dogs are on the rug in front of the woodstove. It is school vacation. I have the Juno soundtrack on the cd player. I have spaghetti sauce on the stove for tonight's party.

The thing I learned from my mother in my 25 years with her, is the importance of "daily." I don't think I ever heard her speak of the future. She lived her life as it came. She got up every day of her life and did what she needed to do, with joy and humor and fortitude. So, I guess I do have that footprint to follow after all. If she had lived beyond 59, I'm positive she would have been just the same, only older. And that is me; I'm just the same, only older.

Outdoor cocktail time, April 2006


  1. Happy birthday, Nan! I'm sure that you'll find your own path, and that the things you did share with your mother will help you to find the way. Thanks for making me think this morning. And have a wonderful birthday!!

  2. And thank you for taking the time to write, Jen. I love what you wrote.

  3. Well, Happy Birthday Nan!

    Considering the alternative, having a birthday is not so bad, is it?

    I will see 56 in April. Funny, when I was a kid, fifty seemed old.

    One thought that always makes me feel better: All my friends, family, etc are aging at the same rate. So, it's not like I am doing this alone.

    I have come to the conclusion that having a clean house is not the most important thing in my day. Let the party begin! Here's to a happy and healthy future. Judy

  4. You are gonna love your sixties. It's the best decade so far, maybe the best of all, but I'm lookin forward to breaking new ground in my 70's, which are not that far off.

    Being 60 sounds ominous, but when you get past that thought, life goes on and you realize you're old enough to do lots of things you wouldn't have done before. Let's face it, it's just a number. Everybody I know loves being in their sixties, and now I'm going to count you in that group.

  5. Thanks, Night Stranger, for your kindness and wisdom. I'm happy to be in that group!

  6. Because of women like you, and those like your mother-in-law and friend, I too am looking forward to getting older. I'm only 37, but each year I find I've grown wiser, more beautiful and more fun to be with (I think).

    Thanks for sharing your birthday with us! I hope it is a joyous celebration of you!

  7. Thanks, Karla for your nice words. Gosh, I was your age when my second child was born! And he'll be 23 in a couple months. :<)

  8. The big 60!!! Congratualtions. It is all a matter of the mind. I like your style of celebration too. Spread the fun out. Don't let go until ya havta.

  9. Thank you, Lisa! You know, my whole life I never had to go to school on my birthday, and now that I'm married to a teacher, that vacation feeling is still there my birthday week, so we are able to do a lot over the time.

  10. OH got me teary Nan. My mom passed away 4 years ago right before Christmas. I knew what you were saying!

    I need to post myself on my blog.
    I may put it on the side. Anyways, you can find me on this link:

    Childlight USA .....they have a workshop I did posted and a small photo.

    I love the tulips and the snow!
    What gorgeous color. I love coming to your blog to see your headline change.

    Good to see you!
    Down south where the daffodils are blooming!

  11. Happy Birthday Nan. It's so nice to see a photo of you as you are now. I'm ahead of you by just a bit. It's hard to think that our mothers never got to be this age, but then we are so lucky that we have.

    Enjoy your birthday week.

  12. Happy Birthday, Nan! What a wonderful post to read. I hope you have a wonderful year ahead, celebrating all the little things that fill our days.
    Hugs, Joanne

  13. Happy Birthday, Nan! And here's to the next 60 years. :-D

  14. A very, very happy birthday to you, dear Nan! I wish I were there to give you a huge birthday hug. :)

    much love,

  15. Happy Belated Birthday Wishes to you!

    Oh Nan, please don't *go on* about turning 60! Not to someone who is coming up on 71!!!!! You youngin' you! :-)))

    A Birthday is simply a day, on which one gets to do just what one wants to do, and nothing else. :-) And if there happens to be a cake somewhere, on that day, it's "icing on the cake!"


  16. Happy birthday, Nan!
    Wishing you a wonderful journey along the coming year's path! I'm not far behind you ...
    Hugs ~ Jeanne

  17. ..."The thing I learned from my mother in my 25 years with her, is the importance of "daily." I don't think I ever heard her speak of the future. She lived her life as it came. She got up every day of her life and did what she needed to do, with joy and humor and fortitude..."
    I LOVED THAT! Your Mom did leave a legacy, and an inspiring one at that!
    Happy Birthday bring such joy to all your readers with your absolutely wonderful blog, jammed full with inspiration and ideas!
    Thank you!
    Blessings for many more years in good health and joy in the dailys!
    Joanne in Ontario

  18. A slightly belated Happy Birthday, Nan! I hope you had a lovely day -- your post is wonderful. We must all learn to live in "the now" and take joy as it comes. I'll turn 53 in a couple of weeks and I welcome the years ahead. Because I, too, feel the same, only older. :)

  19. A very happy Birthday to you! I loved your letter, I shall be 61 in April, I found your letter comforting and encouraging.
    We will always miss our Mums won't we...

  20. A belated but heartfelt happy birthday! And many more to come . . .

  21. Nan, a Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday to you. It's lovely to see your celebration and that gorgeous photo of you. I think you are right; your mother would have continued to live with beauty, joy and grace, just as you will. Take care.

    OH- Nan, did you see that the couple from the film Once won an Oscar for their song? I watched the broadcast just to see them performed and was pleased for them.

  22. A belated happy birthday! This new year is waiting for you. Wrap your arms around it and call it your own.

  23. A very happy birthday to you, Nan. I loved this post, both poignant and wise, and the Emerson quote is perfect. May your year be filled with joy.

  24. A belated very happy birthday to you and all the best wishes for this special "round" year. Hope you had a wonderful day with a lot of nice surprises!

  25. Happy Birthday, Nan!! I love your philosophy on aging. I think your mom would feel she taught you well! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughtful insights in the year to come.
    The flowers on your header are beautiful - I'm looking forward to tulips in the gardens.

  26. Happy belated birthday, Nan! What a beautiful and heartfelt post.

  27. Happy belated birthday, dear Nan! This was such a lovely post to read. ~ hugs, Lynda xo


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