The Goddess Speaks
60th birthday filled with love and joy
MY 60TH birthday recently passed and even though my husband has never been much for must-do celebrations (having had a 40-year marital history of avoidance of things like Christmas shopping, Thanksgiving Family Fun Fests and the Easter Goose), he surprised me by organizing a formal dinner party at a hotel, in my honor.
He made invitations, recruited my sons and father to make an irreverent and hilarious movie about me, hired a florist and bartender, and insisted that the menu be the same as the one I had fed everyone at our home on many occasions -- only this time, someone else did the cooking, serving and cleaning up.
The highlight of the evening was the movie, which included such stellar moments as my 88-year-old father wearing a fright wig and one of my dresses and doing a creditable me-impersonation. The party included flowers and tears, and celebratory speeches by the people I love the most. There were no gifts, only laughter and love, and I cannot think of how my birthday could have been better acknowledged.
As I reflect on this occasion, I remember the many celebrations that I have attended, not as honoree, but as a guest. It seems there have always been events celebrating occasions for young people (baby luaus, birthday parties, graduations, sweet 16, etc.) and only the occasional acknowledgment of some of the major milestones on our collective journeys to Ancient Crone Status.
I think that that is just too bad. I have to admit that I really like people telling me how wonderful I am, before I'm dead. It might be that I will hear those speeches at my funeral, but who can be sure? No sirree, I reveled in the leis, movie and of course the part about showing off, that made up the sum of my 60th.
Maybe I'm delusional, but I just don't believe that a 20-year-old really gets it. I think you have to see a child through a dangerous illness, face a lifetime diet with diabetes, take on the burden of caring for a diminished parent, and stand in Circuit City unable to understand even a fraction of the merchandise before you appreciate how precious the moments of our lives really are.
As I looked around the room at my birthday party, I realized that although my children and grandchildren were blowing bubbles and throwing kisses, it was my generation that was most glad to be there. We know what an evening like this really means, and how the price of happiness is not a matter of a designer purse or a new boat, but the accumulation of decades of happiness and sorrow, love and anger, achievement and disappointment, and, most of all, sacrifice.
I wouldn't trade away a single wrinkle if I had to give up marking a life well lived, and the really nice thing is, my husband is already saving stories for my 70th. And I am already planning to find a way to lock up my dresses.
Chris Rathyn teaches English at Moanalua High School.
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