April 2018

Growing Up at 89

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Mary Anne Zak

Ordinarily I bypass the perpendicular pronoun. But wished happiness as I recently celebrated my 89th birthday, I thank in first person all happiness wishers! Their wishes came true!

Judging by photo albums, all birthdays have been happy! The 18th was especially so. Why 18 seemed so magical is taking years to discern: did it sound mature and autonomous? All I needed to drive was to be 16.

Birthday 30 was happy, too. Washing dishes that birthday morning, I saw a new light. It was saying that 30 was wake-up time! “Now I know why people say,” I thought, “… life begins at 40!”

What could that mean? I had enjoyed a generous 30 years. Age 40 was ten years away. Hadn’t life been beginning for 30 years! I had a history of them: good parents, happy life, good husband, happy home, three children and counting.

Hadn’t life begun?

Yes, and it would begin again at 40, 50, 60, and counting. (For 40 Prankster Brother gave me a sympathy card, a pair of knitting needles and a bottle of Geritol.)

In the profound sense of the word awesome, it is awesome to own 89 years. When I was young and younger, the numeral sounded old. (What is old? The tone in which some people spoke the word old sounded dismissive, disrespectful. Numeral 89, however, sounded increasingly inviting!)

Growing older was privilege! Health blessed, I was discovering that although life languished, it offered gifts.

Captivating now is a cylindrical glass garden. Holding tulip bulbs in water, it lowers delicate root tendrils while launching slender stems. Stems carry two-tone blossoms opening and closing as demitasse cups and saucers! When petals fall, I marvel at the sturdy pistil and stamens.

Daily I glory in the river! Even when ice floes appeared, I relished gazing at the Connecticut. Winter had made it widely visible by baring trees along the banks. As the trees leaf, patches of clarity will reveal the river’s gleam.

Its pulsing flow renews and maintains hope. Even when the river reflects sky as gray as the suffering world, its power flows. When blue, reflecting vibrant serenity of azure sky, the river gleams with heartening sunlight.

On the horizon beyond, another symbol of hope echoes the river, a church spire.

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