December 28, 2019 12:37 am
I turned 52 thirty-seven minutes ago. Here I sit, up after midnight while the whole house sleeps. For some reason, I needed to watch and be awake when the old year passed away.
Age is just a number, says the old adage, but that number is beginning to alarm me. I’ve written about this before. It’s the sense that I’m running out of time to do the things I have not yet achieved, and other things are changing faster than I can adapt. The parenting phase of my life, for example. It is steadily morphing into a different form, and it took a big leap this year.
And I’ve lost people. My friends have lost people.
So while the house snores and groans and talks in its sleep, I feel the urge to take stock of my blessings before morning brings the obligatory good wishes, cake and gifts, and afterward becomes just one more day.
What am I grateful for, at 52?
1. I can still walk, run, see and hear, and touch my toes.
2. I have really good blood pressure and my blood sugar is normal. I’m pretty much the same weight I’ve always been. I can hold a plank for about one minute. (Yeah, I could do better. I must get back to the gym.)
3. After 28 years, my husband still loves me. (I shouldn’t brag, but he’s actually pretty nuts about me, even though I’m saggy and wrinkled and most of my hair has turned from black to white. I’m still a nighthawk and I still sleep late and I’m still hardly ever on time—but he loves me.)
4. This year has been a bumpy ride for my children—one of them in particular—and consequently for us, as well. But they are all in one piece, and I have faith that everything will be okay. I’m grateful that my oldest child accepted a position she loves and that she moved into a new house with friends and met a nice boy who became her fiancé.
5. My middle daughter has a job she likes, and lives with her best friend, and they support each other. I’m grateful that she’s surrounded by people who care about her, and that she has the space to figure her life out.
6. My youngest son is a good, conscientious student, and a hard worker. I’m grateful he is a bright, deep thinker. He is learning his own life lessons well and he listens carefully to people. At 16, I can see he is already a leader.
7. I’m grateful I still have my mother.
8. I love my old house, despite all its deficiencies, and how it bulges with memories of laughter, and love, and tears.
9. I have sweet, long-time friends, who listen while I talk, and cry, and offer their prayers, their love and their support.
10. I have wonderful mentors who believe in my abilities as a writer and try to talk me out of giving up when I feel discouraged. They are in my corner.
11. The thing with gray hair is that people sometimes seek my advice, and I am humbled that they would respect what I have to say. It makes me want to think twice and speak once.
12. Certain people think a volunteer committee is in good hands if I am on it. Imagine that! People believe in me more than I believe in myself, and I’m grateful that I’m finally beginning to realize it.
13. After 34 years, I’m grateful that God has proved himself to me again and again and again, and through all the ups and downs of life, the challenges and successes, my hope in him has grown ever more precious.
On my birthday afternoon, I attended a lengthy funeral for the father of one of my dearest friends. His name was Henry, a blustery Italian with a big booming voice and a generous heart. He died on Monday, December 23 after a battle with cancer and other long-term ailments. But he didn’t let those illnesses stop him. At 84, he had been a lifelong pastor and was still preaching. In fact, he preached his last sermon the day before he died. Henry was also a carpenter by trade, and supplemented his income by building and repairs, and his son Joel remarked that he approached all the aspects of his ministry and life the way he approached carpentry: even huge jobs can be accomplished with a few tools and a wheelbarrow. It’s day by day, brick by brick, nail by nail, step by step.
How appropriate that I would spend a portion of my birthday focused on the accomplishments of an extremely humble man who had an immense impact on all the people who knew him, and likely would have been surprised by the many people who came to pay their respects. He didn’t waste a single minute of his life. Let us not waste a minute, either.