Meditation on Turning 75 by
100
(115 Stories)

Prompted By Lost and Found

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

Found: The joy of celebrating our 50th anniversary with our whole family (minus one)

The lost part of turning 75 on Labor Day is easy to write. Obviously, my youth; the good health I took for granted; my career; my children when they were young and in my care; even my grandkids being babies, toddlers, and preschoolers who loved to be read to sitting on my lap – all of that is behind me. I have lost my parents and all of my aunts and uncles. I have lost people I loved from my generation. Now, I am the matriarch on my side of the family.

Celebrating my 37th birthday

The lost part of turning 75 on is easy to write. Yet, I hope I have found the perspective and patience to look forward rather than to wallow in the misery of the present.

When I look in the mirror, which I try my best to avoid, I realize I have lost my beautiful, dark hair. Now, it is thinner and would be mostly grey if I didn’t color it. My trimmer figure is definitely lost, as is my unwrinkled skin. Instead, I see my mother’s face and the dark under-eye circles I inherited from my father. My husband and I spend a ridiculous amount of time doctoring. Twisting awkwardly when getting up or carrying a heavy bag of groceries throws out our backs. My younger grandkids ask why my hands have so many veins sticking up. I struggle to remember names, although I know if I don’t stress over this problem, they will float into my head eventually. Yes, turning 75 is no picnic.

Nana’s 75th surprise party

I remember as if it were yesterday when Nana, my mother-in-law, turned 75 and we made her a surprise party at my house. And the celebrations we had to mark my parents’ 75th birthdays. Life was simpler then. Even for my parents, who lived in Detroit, it was easy for all of their children and grandchildren to gather to mark the occasion. Because they had summer birthdays, my kids, who were in graduate school and college in 1996, came to Detroit for my father’s party, and again gathered in Detroit for my mother’s celebration in 1998. At this point, the oldest two came with their significant others and the youngest was still in college. My point is that, for all three celebrations, their children and grandchildren were all there.

Dad’s 75th celebration

 

Mom looking at a memory book at her 75th party

Even without the pandemic, which makes a real celebration impossible, I know my children and grandchildren would have struggled to figure out a date and place for such a party. So that’s a loss. I remember thinking that 75 was a huge birthday for our parents. My father-in-law died at age 57, so we thought making it to age 75 was something to celebrate. We continued this tradition every five years and were lucky to be able to celebrate 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays for three of our parents. I understand that my birthday will go by uncelebrated, and this is definitely a loss I have accepted. Maybe we will Zoom or FaceTime our kids and grandkids, but (like so many other occasions we have been unable to celebrate this year) Covid-19 has made what would have been difficult in normal times impossible this year.

Looking back at time spent with close friends is much sweeter now (January 2020)

This has been a pretty glum meditation thus far. Time to turn to what I have found. That would have to include the wisdom and perspective that come with many years of experience. Life is calmer, quieter, and much less stressful. When I was younger, I used to fanaticize about the 1973 Italian movie A Brief Vacation. In it, a woman with young children, whose hectic life included a disabled husband and difficult mother-in-law, came down with tuberculosis. She was sent to a sanatorium in the Alps to recover where she met other patients who treated her with kindness, civility and respect, as well as a handsome fellow patient with whom she had an affair. How could she return to her former life? Well, now I’m having that vacation I craved when I was younger (minus the affair). Since retiring, and especially with the pandemic restrictions, I have time to read and write and think. I have found great joy in blogging. My husband and I get along very well, so spending this extra time together is a blessing.

Hanging in there with my best friend

We moved from our home of 45 years to a condo in May, and we quickly adjusted to an easier life style. While we dearly miss seeing our kids and grandkids, we have taken advantage of summer weather to meet outside with the ones who live in town as well as with friends. We zoom and communicate with long-time friends who live out of town, probably more frequently than when we actually saw them in person. Because it is so much harder to connect, we have found making a greater effort to keep in touch is very rewarding.

With time to reflect and separate myself from the chaos of my life prior to retirement, I found new ways to occupy my time. I even wrote and self-published a book when I turned 70. This birthday will not be a repeat of that accomplishment, but it is a time to think back by writing memoir pieces and look forward to the time when we are free from the current pandemic. How much sweeter will it be to be able to (fingers crossed) celebrate my grandchildren’s milestones starting this spring/summer after having lost so many.  Since March, I have missed six of my grandkids’ birthdays and all of their year-end performances and celebrations (which didn’t happen). I am hoping to be able to be there to celebrate the birthdays that fall in the summer and beyond, as well as important milestones like graduations, recitals, performances, and in-person visits. This summer, I hope to celebrate when three of their parents are turn fifty. Did I mention I am old?

Writing this made me realize how many priceless moments I have missed since mid-March. Losing a year of my life at my age is nothing to dismiss. Yet, I hope I have found the perspective and patience to look forward rather than to wallow in the misery of the present. At this stage of life, I have found that parts of the serenity prayer make sense. I will try to accept the things I cannot change. Politically and personally, I will have the courage to try to change the things I can. Hopefully, at this age I have the wisdom to know the difference.

All of the grandkids – definitely a found in life

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real and join my Facebook community.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

Visit Author's Website



Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Nice meditation, Laurie. I guess we should all be thankful for what we’ve got and not dwell on what’s gone. COVID has taken much from us this year. We need to get on the other side of it, so life will be that much sweeter when we can hug our loved ones again.

  2. Marian says:

    What a deep and lovely story, Laurie. You express all the complex feelings about the loss of recognizing milestones for both the young and old, which prompted me to think back about my mother’s 80th birthday celebration, which I treasure. Like you, I look forward to reconnecting with loved ones. Although the days are long, the year is short, and we are pondering time left at this stage of our lives.

  3. John Shutkin says:

    Lovely story, Laurie, in all respects. You are so right about what we have all lost with the years — even those of us spry folks not quite 75. And, yes, it is pretty glum and made even morso by the pandemic, of course. So I am grateful for the more positive things that you note that you — and, hopefully, many of us — have gained. The serenity prayer reference is really apt.

    Also, terrific family pictures!

  4. Suzy says:

    Laurie, happy birthday on Monday! Hope you will be able to celebrate in some fashion, even if you can’t have a big party like your parents and in-laws had. I love your meditation, which describes the losses so many of us are feeling, both the ones from aging and the ones from covid. And as always, your pictures are fabulous! I especially love the one of you and Fred that you have captioned “Hanging in there with my best friend.” Beautiful!

  5. Early wishes for a Happy Birthday! I feel bad that you won’t be able to celebrate your 75th in the style it deserves, Laurie…it is a significant occasion. Wisdom aside, it sucks.

  6. Yes Laurie so much loss and separation we’ve all borne this year, but what a big wonderful family you have waiting to share more times to come!

  7. Happiest birthday, Laurie – you are every bit as beautiful as you always were. Inside and out. Sending much love!

  8. Betsy Pfau says:

    Happy 75th Laurie! I echo Marcia’s sentiment’s. We all know that time has not diminished your beauty. COVID may not allow the grand celebration you deserve, but we are all with from afar.

Leave a Reply