Ode to 52

I have now officially outlived my Mother, and these are my reflections on this experience.

A year ago tomorrow, I celebrated my 52nd birthday. During the pandemic, we were limited in where we could go and how many people could sit together in a restaurant. My husband made a reservation at a local Thai restaurant. We were limited to 5 people, so my immediate family and my daughter’s friend, who rented a room from us, were the only guests at my birthday dinner. We were all so grateful to eat in a restaurant because it was a rare occurrence in 2021.

As we drove to the restaurant, snow began to fall. I-405 was white, and huge flakes were falling from the sky.

We sat around the table at the restaurant and ordered Fresh Rolls and Crab Rangoon to share, and some of our favorite main dishes like Phad Thai, Phad See Ew, Nibbana Noodles, and fried rice. We laughed and talked and ate until we were stuffed, packing up the leftovers for another day. We made our way home in the snowstorm safely to enjoy some cake.

Shoofly Cake

Macy made me a Pennsylvania Dutch Shoofly Cake, a deliciously dense cake with molasses and a crumb topping. I had a recipe for it, but no one in my family had ever tasted it. She placed candles on it and lit them, and YES, I did blow them out before she served it. I received lovely gifts and flowers. Mark gave me an especially nice gift that we’d use together many times over the summer: a wheeled-cart to help us move the kayaks from my vehicle to the water.

We ended our celebration early. Jessica drove home before the roads became undrivable. Macy’s friend Vivienne, who typically went home to Gig Harbor for the weekend, stayed put at our house because her mom said the roads were hazardous heading south.

My girls and me

The snow continued to fall overnight.

And so began my 52nd year on this planet.

This was a significant year for me because my Mom died when she was 52, so I’d been thinking of, worrying about, and bracing for this day for a very long time.

I’d often ponder questions like, How would I feel at this age? Where would I be in my life? Would I be done living?

The answer is no; I’m not done yet!

I didn’t really think I would die at age 52, but I felt out of sorts as my birthday approached.

There is no way I could have predicted that we’d still be feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its restrictions. As the months of 2021 ticked by, I lost several friends and one family member. Not all were related to the virus, but they were constant reminders about life and death, grief and sorrow.

I figured the best tribute I could make to my Mom was to live my life to the fullest. Last year, I did some brave things that pushed me way beyond my comfort zone. I resigned from a job that brought me more stress and dread than joy. I wrote and self-published my first book. After two years of being too chicken to shake my booty in the front of the class in my dance class, I decided I could do it. And I’ve done it several times since. I read the entire Bible in 2021 and paid attention to the meaningful scriptures that spoke directly to me.

And so, throughout this year, I’ve paid attention to my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. If I’m in a place of pain, I do my best to change it. In general, I feel good. I’m healthy, I’m happy, and I take good care of myself. I’ve increased my income from my resume writing business by 520% over four years. I wrote another book in 30 days in November, with plans to publish it later this year. And I’m still with my husband since 1990. Maybe these are just ordinary things that people do, but when I see that I’ve already outlived my Mom, I can’t help but wonder what she would have experienced if she were still here. She’d see that her children all got married and became parents and homeowners. She’d meet her grandchildren and celebrate their successes. She’d see her nieces and nephews grow up, get married, start families, and still maintain their connections to each other. These are certainly reasons to celebrate.

Tomorrow, I will turn 53. I will start my day by dancing in the morning and seeing Cirque du Soleil’s show, Alegria, in the afternoon with my husband, my daughter, and her boyfriend. Beyond that, who knows? This year I can finally relax. It’s the start of my new year, and anything is possible.

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