birthday gift

20130729-085000.jpg It’s happened again. The calendar has flipped past July 26. I must admit to one more year, creeping up on “middle” age. I wonder when, exactly, I should admit to cresting the hill, beginning the downhill slide? Not yet. I will stubbornly assert that I have at least 100 in me. Why not?

Just one year ago this birthday weekend, I was exploring Roma, Italy, with my girl before embarking on grand Mediterranean adventure. So much has happened these past twelve months that The Big Trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey, celebrating my sister, seems almost another lifetime. Almost.

20130729-183559.jpgI’ve never asked my daughter what she prayed for at the House of Mary last summer. But I know my own prayer was answered there. They named him Henry James.

The past year has been as ripe as a July peach with celebrations and opportunity. Yet everything pales by comparison to becoming a GiGi — twice! First Ollie, then Henry. These two beautiful boys bring such joy. My heart aches for missing them if a day or two goes by. It about bursts each time I hold one in my arms.

This birthday weekend was blessed by a visit from Floridians, beloved Aunt Bea and her daughter, Sally. My cousin and I share a birthday with Aunt Kay, who lives nearby. This, along with sunshiny North Country skies, presented a perfect scenario for a patio party. My great-Aunt Ellen’s visit perfected the weekend. Five generations strong! I felt rich, beyond measure. At age 90, I must say, my great-aunt sets the bar pretty high.

Abruptly, I flashed back to a sense of dread as my 40th approached, not all that long ago. I was chatting with my fourth grade friend, just then. J. was taking a meal to her neighbor who was suffering with terminal brain cancer. That hit me hard.

This woman had young children, in pre-school and kindergarten. She would not see them off to college or happily married. She would never know her grandchildren; they would not know her love. I did not know her but was overwhelmed by their loss. And filled with resolve.

Each birthday is a gift, no matter the number.

So I grow older, thankfully. I celebrate the privilege of reaching my next milestone marker. I aspire to be fruitful, like my aunt and great-aunt before me, to the end of my days.

This birthday was particularly sweet, wrapped with beloved grand-boys and aunts, tied tight by thoughtful friends, draped softly by dear daughters and sisters, topped by bright ribbons of cousins, big bows of sunshine, and sprays of fresh flowers. It was a celebration of the goodness in this life. It was a gift.

Psalm 1
Oh, the joys of those who…
… delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.

~ René Morley

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