Saturday, May 7, 2011

three score and ten

Today I am turning seventy! It's a milestone.

Celebration will not be elaborate, as I have an all-day rehearsal with my chorale. Singing is always a celebratory act for me, even if it involves hours of exacting repetition..

Steve and I went out for a lavish dinner last Sunday night, and designated that as my 'birthday dinner.' It was early, so as not to conflict with Mothers Day tomorrow. Somehow we feel compelled to space the celebrations in a seemly manner.

For many years now, I have organized birthday parties for myself in the years when May 7 falls on a Thursday or a Sunday. Thanks to the phenomenon of Leap Year, this policy creates a quasi-random schedule that I like very much. Birthday parties are (actually should be) narcissistic affairs, and I don't really need that every year.

Generally my Thursday parties are ladies' luncheons, and the Sunday ones are raucous picnics. All have artistic elements: poetry reading, music, videos, etc. Once I put modelling clay in the luncheon centerpieces, and it was great fun to see a bunch of middle-aged women happily sculpting flowers, implements, and life-like figures both human and animal..

My most recent Sunday party (in the year 2000) was an 'old hippie' picnic at a large city park. Guests were encouraged to dress up (most did!). Extra flowers and beads were available to embellish everyone's outfits. Steve made his signature shish kebabs, and fortunately the cake was NOT "left out in the rain" as in MacArthur Park.

I resist the temptation to check the calendar and figure out when my next party will be. I look forward to the next one(s), and look back fondly on the last one(s) without much specificity..

Upon turning seventy, Steve's mother, Alice, alluded to the Biblical concept that "three score and ten" was the normal human life span (Psalm 90, verse 10). She lived to age 85, and the intervening years were definitely not all "labour and sorrow," as the King James Version expresses it. Nevertheless she would allude to her mortality with remarks such as "Well, I guess this is the last time we'll have blueberry pie!" She also wrote her own obituary, with a charming allusion to The Deacon's Wonderful One-Hoss Shay by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894).

Today I am thinking not so much about my own mortality as about ways to stay young. Sadly my own parents, aged 95 and 96, have lost interest in just about everything except their own aches and pains. They are role models only in a negative sense. I have vowed not to emulate them.

Keeping up with friends and family, learning new things, and finding more ways to celebrate are on my agenda for coming years. These are the stuff of postoccupations for sure.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License