May 29, 1969
The alarm clock buzzed predawn. The welcome of a new day. The welcome of a new decade. Today I turned 50. I woke to my husband playing the SNL skit for me of Sally O Malley yelling ” I’m 50! I can kick. I can stretch. And I can kick. I am 50!” This has to be the most annoying way to wake up on the morning of your quinquagenarian milestone. By the way, yes I can still kick, stretch and kick.
Working my way to the kitchen, I spot a display of red roses and a supply of prosecco bottles in the formation of the number 50. Again, another subtle hint by my husband of my rite of passage. The 40s are gone…forever. I have traveled 50 times around the sun. I have 50 years of a story of my life written on the pages in my mind. But the number 50 is not the only statistic of significance of my life. If I were to create a numeric mosaic of the most important integers they would look like something like this:
17, 3, 51, 1, 2 percent, 52, 28, 0,12, 21, 2012, 10, 15, 2016, 1992
These are not the vintage years of my favorite wines. These are not serial numbers to the bottles of prosecco. These are not winning lottery numbers. These are the pivotal moments of a lifetime of stories. The story of when I had my son at 17. The story of the birth of my 3 blessings. The story of being the first college graduate in my household. The story of attempting my PhD with two percent of the population even thought I had to graduate from night school (that is a great story). The story of the age my mother lost her battle to breast cancer at 51. The story of my graduation year and death of my mother in 1992. The future story of when I will be older than my mother in the next two birthdays. The story of the 28 years I have worked in the school district and the 0 amount of birthday wishes or even a card from my department colleagues on this day (partly the function of having a birthday during the last week of school in an educational setting). The story of the dates I met my husband and the date I said “I do”.
You see, these 50 trips around the sun do not rattle the diva in me. I do not worry about the greys or the wrinkles because I can color my hair and apply great concealer to whatever is offensive to the eye. My mother’s 50th year was spent in chemo, radiation, surgeries and difficult conversations with experts. Her cocktails were mixed in IV bags and not delivered in cosmo glasses nor served chilled with the cork popped. Instead of planning her birthday celebrations she was fighting for an extra trip around the sun…at any cost, including hair, mobility and quality of life. She wanted one more orbit. A little more time to add a few more numbers to her story. Mom’s final trip around the giant star ended on July 15, 1992 – 45 days away from her 52nd birthday.
So today I “pop” the cork, enjoy the “fizz”, and sip the bubbles and embrace my new number “fifty”. I celebrate the age and stage of this page of my story. I celebrate for my mom. I celebrate because I am still here for my children.
I am 50, est. 1969…I celebrate getting older, wiser and fine like wine. Thank you Diana Yanes, my mother, my life giver…on this day… 50 orbits ago.