As 8:19 a.m. approached this morning, I was marking the close of my 50th year. The ritual of another birthday always officially begins with a specific phone call that comes at that time.
For the last 25 years, my mother has called me at the moment of my birth. The past two months threatened to take away that precious memory this year, as my mother was dealing with health issues that arose from what was expected to be a “routine” surgery.
So when the phone rang at 8:18 in the ring tone I assigned to my parents’ home phone number, I barely let it finish its first tone before taking the call.
I usually don’t make birthday wishes because there isn’t anything that I want so desperately to utter a fervent wish for it. This year was different. I knew what I wanted quite a few weeks before today arrived.
I would have felt supremely blessed in my mother’s sweet call, but the birthday blessings continued to flow all day, from a surprise call from my father (who is not a phone guy), to calls and texts and Facebook messages from friends, family, and colleagues from all career-points in my life. Tremendously grateful, am I, for the kindnesses of so many.
As I relished the goodness coming my way, I couldn’t help reflecting on the year past. There were so many pivot points. I thought about all that I had hoped to accomplish when I turned the Big 5-0. I am a List Maker and a Bucket List keeper. I take this stuff seriously.
So what did I hope to achieve in my 50th year on the Planet and how did I do?
For one thing, I had hoped to finish my dissertation and get my PhD. What a grueling process it is, and I hate to admit, I missed the target again. Paint my home office, improve my health and fitness, read several of the books on my shelf. Nope, nope and nope. Didn’t exactly hit the mark on those things either.
Many of my goals were sidetracked by life’s offerings, good and bad. That’s LIFE.
I chose to visit my mother in the hospital. I spent extra time with my father while he was adjusting to a lonely home life during the two months that my mother was away with illness. I accepted my husband’s offer of a few moments of “normalcy” when life was upside down all around me, opting to lounge outside in the autum chill warmed by a bonfire instead of hunched over my laptop deciphering research code.
Moments like those I wouldn’t trade. They were God’s blessings, even the tough parts.
Even though I didn’t get to do all the things I had planned or wanted to this past year, I’m counting my blessings. I laid eyes on the Grand Canyon and Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain views too, with a bonus of the Hoover Dam tossed in — all Bucket List wishes granted over the last several months.
My husband and I vacationed with our kids – teenagers now and a far cry from the little ones we last vacationed with more than seven years ago. A different experience but a wonderful one, and memories of our week in Maine are indelibly etched in my mind.
My job pushed me hard, especially with travel assignments, but the flip side of working my butt off and being away from my loved ones was the opportunity to fly over the fjords of Norway, to get up close and personal with the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, and to take a side trip to New Orleans in between uncooperative flying weather in the Gulf. Complain? Not a chance.
So in the year that I have been 50, did I do everything I set out to do? Of course not. If I had, I would have had to say no to the flow of life, the unexpected and the difficult. Miss the experience, miss the growth. I’ll never say no to what Life serves up.
Blessings are two-sided, you know. You just have to flip them over and take a different view.
Copyright 2013 by Marianne V. Heffernan