As I approached my 90th birthday, I sensed that family and friends were watching me surreptitiously, speculatively. I could feel their eyes on me when they thought my attention was diverted. I was not only uncomfortable with this scrutiny, but also a little unnerved. Why the sudden interest?
Did they think I was going to morph into something entirely different when I reached that milestone? Maybe collapse into a dusty heap with one last gasp? Perhaps I’d grow back down, as my daughter used to believe; start wearing pigtails and hair bows again?
My brother finally blurted out the question I sensed was on everyone’s mind. “So, what are you going to do on your 90th birthday, Sis? What’s on your bucket list? Going sky-diving or anything exciting?”
SKY-DIVING? MOI?? Was he out of his mind or did he think I was? I wouldn’t go sky-diving if Brad Pitt were piloting the plane and I was being strapped in with George Clooney for the descent! (Well, let me think about that one for a sec, that’s pretty tempting,) but NO, NO. Why would a natural born coward like me leave this perfectly safe, solid earth to leap out into empty space?
IT WILL NOT HAPPEN
Neither will I go zip-lining, even if a friend, 88 years old at the time, did that very thing not too long ago, with pictures to prove it. She’s a far braver person than I.
Hot-Air Ballooning? No, again, No. No. No. I heard of two Mid-Western balloonists who decided to try their sport around Albuquerque, a noted ballooning site. Being unfamiliar with New Mexico’s winds and downdrafts, their balloon landed with a tremendous jolt that resulted in their walking away with four broken ankles. Wait, I’d better rephrase that, they were hauled off with four broken ankles. I could only wonder which one drove back to the mid-west.
Kayaking, NEVER. Bungee Jumping, NEVER. Snowboarding, NEVER. Hang gliding, Skin Diving, Roller Coasters, Marathons, not in my wildest dreams. My bucket list is nearly complete and what’s left can probably be accomplished from the comfy depths of my easy chair while I’m still of reasonably sound mind. That’s providing I haven’t already done everything, forgotten it, and decided to start over.
So what have I planned for my 90th birthday? I want to spend the day contacting every friend and family member I can reach, or remember. I’m giving hugs to everyone who smiles at me. I’m assuring my dear ones of my deep love for them. I’m setting aside time to reminisce about the many who’ve passed on ahead. sending happy thoughts their way. I’ve had to pose for a few pictures but I’ve scarcely looked into a mirror all day. It’s far too late to be making comparisons.
I’ll listen to good music and leaf through favorite books. I’ll enjoy good food and if this should include birthday cake, I’ll have seconds, especially if it’s chocolate. I’ll try to blow out all the candles but will no doubt need help from two small great-grandchildren who might be hanging around, staring at me, awed by my wrinkles and the number of candles on the cake.
Maybe I’ll give some thought to which decade I might like to revisit, if that would be possible. We can skip the 1930s. Being a true child of the depression,there’s nothing about the ‘30s I want to remember. The 1940s may have been the most eventful for me personally. Going from the trauma of a major war while still wearing snoods and saddle shoes, to peacetime parenting in one decade was quite a change. The 50s and 60s were busy and exciting, the 70s and 80s flew by and by the 1990s and 2000s, I was aging but trying not to notice. Secretly,
I was afraid I’d slipped past my sell-by date and no one had let me know.
So, I suddenly find myself at the age of 90, ready for the big slide into my dotage, with people expecting me to leap out of airplanes and risk my delicate self in screwy stunts. As if! Who knows what the next decade will bring? Maybe it will be the best yet.
I’ll finish off a long, happy day with a hearty gin and tonic (extra lime), and count my many blessings. And Oh yes, I’ll spare a thought for all those other 90 year olds out there risking life and limb sky-diving, zip-lining, skateboarding or whatever thrills them, while I prop my feet up and relax.
I’m grateful for being me and I plan to drink a toast to my 100th birthday, coming up fast. A decade can be gone before you know it.