To clarify for those of you who have not been subjected to my rationale: when one turns a certain year, say 6, you have completed 6 years. So for me to turn 80 means I have completed 80 years in this body, on this earthly plane. I had little respect for or interest in being 79. That number seemed to have no glamour or prestige. It was a way station. Thus I have felt entitled to call the past year, my 80th year, albeit in progress. And when I turn (properly) 80, I can be 80 for another year. I started doing this about half way through my 59th year, finding 59 another uninteresting year, and have been selective as to which years were worthy of more than one calendar year.
U.S. participation in World War II began the year I was born. I’m not sure the two events were connected. My Dad was in the Navy and could never talk about what he did, but he was awarded medals by overseas governments. My mother was a “housewife”, and an alcoholic. I had no siblings to lean on, but was blessed with an adoring grandmother, a 6th cousin, and an aunt who mentored me until their deaths. My goal as a young person was not “coming out” as a debutante, but to get into a good college and stretch my proverbial wings. Typical teenager seeking freedom.
After my first round of graduate school, I moved to Miami where I met my first husband, Art. Subsequently we moved to Australia, divorced, and I met my second husband, Mike, a man I still consider a soul mate. Almost 20 years after moving to Australia, we moved back to the US, and divorced. My third partner, George, was introduced to me at a dinner party given by the eldest son of the aforementioned 6th cousin. The time lines were 10.5 years, 15 years, and 8.5 years, and each of these partners, each a good man, has died.
So now what? Now I get to brag about my age and celebrate that there are lots of things I can still do, maybe not so well as I used to, or slower. In particular, the brain is a bit sluggish; parts are wearing out.
But the main thing is that I have an appreciation for life that I did not have when I was young. There has been a lot of learning along the way. I often manage to stay in the “now”, or at least to visit it on a regular basis, and whatever age you are now, know that that ability is truly a blessing: grab it if you can.
Completing 80 years gives one perspective. Thus, I want to thank each of you for being part of my life. There are so very many highlights, the kind that keep one laughing in retrospect and going for years in gratitude.