A 74th Birthday

A 74th Birthday

Man struggles to find life outside himself, unaware that the life he is seeking is within him.  Kahlil Gabran

Everyone asks me what I’m doing today on my birthday. In the past, my natal day would be a flurry of activity. I often looked to others for attention and celebration. I decided this morning to ask for nothing, but to fill my own cup.

I’m choosing to spend the day doing things I usually do and savoring them. I just put in a load of laundry and I’m sweeping and tidying up (while dancing to Bruno Mars) before I head out to walk my dog along the tidal marsh. A regular day, routine chores, simple pleasures. Blessedly normal; blessedly joyful. 

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Living is so dear.” 

I will take moments throughout the day to remember that this day will never come again; life is a mysterious gift, and time is limited. From the book Zorba the Greek by Nikos Katantzakis:  “Zorba came upon an old man planting an apricot seedling and asked why he, an old man, was planting a new tree. ‘I live as though I would never die,’ was his reply. ‘And me, I live as though I might die tomorrow,’ said Zorba, ‘which one of us is right?’ ”

Today, I will take time to enjoy a walk in the shade of tall trees. I will plant colorful spring flowers in clay pots. I will be glad for all I have and don’t have. I will talk to angels and ancestors. I will keep my heart wide open. I will be gentle with my soul.

Later, after dinner with friends, when the pings and dings of facebook and texts die down, I will take a deep breath and say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for this glorious day.

7 thoughts on “A 74th Birthday”

  • Dear Beverly,

    I believe you when you say it feels like dying. In a way, something IS dying, but the goal is to discover that what’s dying isn’t YOU. I walk around often, mumbling how amazing it is that life, with time, can begin to blossom again with a softness that can’t be envisioned at the time the pain is being doled out to us, but it is true.

    If you haven’t been able to yet, pick up some books on the topic of this particular loss and see if you can find something that comforts you and something that strengthens you.

    Take very good care of yourself even if you don’t want to.
    All “self comforts ” that are healing are your new best friends……music, knitting, nature walking, reading, tea, warm baths, naps, good food, friends, hobbies…you get the drift. You are injured…..that is normal, because you Care…..—if you didn’t care it wouldn’t hurt so bad—……so you need to tend to your healing first, just as you would if you had a broken bone. In many ways a heart must be attended to even more so than a broken bone, for it truly is the “Heart” of functioning; we can’t live without one. Your goal is to heal yours and help it learn to trust and feel strong again. It is possible. And important. And only you can do it because only you know how to heal yours and knows what works.

    I truly believe that what we experience as estranged grandparents is often as traumatic as a death. It takes time to heal. Know that your sense of loss is shared and as much as that can lessen the load of the pain–to know you are truly not alone–let it. You have sisters.

    Keep your daughter in your heart and reach out when you can.


  • This week I am struggling once again. My son is or has moved house and hasn’t/isn’t giving me his new address (he lives in the same city as I do).
    My granddaughter’s birthday is this week. I am sending her a card with money, which I’d rather deliver in person due to some bad experiences with the postal service. So, I am forced to sending it to their old address making the card arrive, if it does, late.

    I know this sounds trivial, but any birthday, any reminder of how I’m crossed out of their lives drives me into a tight little vortex of obsession and increases my physical pain and diminishes my sense of self-worth. I almost wish I could heed their wishes and simply withdraw completely from their lives though sometimes they let me in for a wee peek, never mind. I just wanted to vent here in communal safety. Thanks for reading and thank you, Nancy.

    • I understand, believe me. Sorry for your current struggles. I’ve been there, I know how it feels and all I can say is please do your best to think of other things and take care of yourself. This will pass, things will change. xx

  • As much as this is not something I would have ever chosen, I would say one thing I am learning is as you put it, to “fill my own cup.” I am very thankful to have the ability to do this. Thank you always for your words of inspiration .

    • Yes, I totally agree with you, Frances. I would not have chosen many circumstances in my life, but things are what they are. I decided to make the best of things, hence this birthday missive. I’m very happy to hear that you’re learning to “fill your own cup,” because no matter what our circumstances, we all would be happier if we learned to do this!

  • It till be 2 years this December that I’ve been estranged from my daughter and 3 grandchildren. I will be 77 next month and saw them almost every day until that time. It never gets better and I feel like I’m dying from the hurt. I’m devastated and don’t know what to do.

    • Beverly – for some reason I just saw your post. I’m so sorry you’re feeling so hurt and devastated. I understand how if feels to not know what to do next, but just keep breathing, going about your day. Take one step and then another. It will get better, it really will. It may not be what you hope it will be, but if you let it, grace will come into your life and there will be compensation for your loss.

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