Happy Birthday to Me

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Photo by Jessica Diamond

I’m more excited about my birthday than I normally am, perhaps because I’m still around to celebrate it. No, nothing is wrong with me. I don’t have a terminal disease (unless you consider life to be a terminal disease, which in a way, it is). But I am getting older, and I’m aware of the fact that many people who are almost 60 are in poor health for one reason or another. I don’t have any complaints, and that makes me hopeful. You see, I’m hoping to make it to one hundred. That would give me another 42 years on this earth. When you look at it that way, 58 doesn’t seem so bad.

But of course I’m not likely to live to be a hundred. The average life span for someone like me is around 85. Which gives me 27 more years. Still a good chunk of time, but then you have to consider that the last ten at least won’t be spent running marathons. But then I don’t run marathons now, so what would I be losing?

Normally, birthdays don’t mean much to me.  I make an effort to remember others,’ but I honestly don’t care if anyone remembers mine. Oh, I don’t mind a phone call, but gifts are strictly optional. I’m the same way at Christmas. Sometimes my children have been too strapped for money to get me a present and I can’t even tell you who or when that was, just that it has happened at times.

My husband, on the other hand, loves birthdays. That’s partly the German in him; apparently birthdays are a very big deal in Germany. You’re treated special for the entire day, from breakfast right through dinner. I have had to adapt myself to that mentality if only for the sake of other people, but it just makes me uncomfortable to be fussed over on my birthday. It’s not like I did anything to deserve it. I’m just still alive, that’s all.

My reluctance to be recognized on my birthday might date back to the year I turned sixteen. No one even mentioned it was my birthday until dinner that night, and it wasn’t because they had a party planned for me or anything. It was just an “ordinary” birthday. Maybe I’m afraid of being disappointed again, so I’ve trained myself to not expect anything.

I’m writing this at 2:30 in the morning of my birthday–the day is yet to unfold.  I’ll let you know how this birthday panned out. I’m not expecting anything, but I have a feeling this is going to be a good one.

NOTE: I had a great birthday, mainly because my family was all around me (except for one of my daughters who lives too far away) and I had many happy birthday wishes by email and phone. I also ate till I was stuffed, on pizza and cheesecake (not together). My youngest daughter spent hours–literally–making the cheesecake, which was stupendous, my third daughter hosted the party and my oldest daughter drove from a couple of hours away to be there with my grandson. My in-laws in Germany sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers and my wonderful husband made me feel special from the start of the day to its end.  Thanks to all for making my birthday memorable in the very best way.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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