Thursday, 26 August 2010
We’ve had a rash of family birthdays since mine in July and I am just surfacing. It struck me how differently we all anticipate our birthdays and how we like to mark the occasions. When young, they can’t come quickly enough and we can’t wait for the next so that eventually we should attain that mystical adult status when we can do everything and be accountable to no-one. That day finally arrives and with it all the drama and responsiblities of adult life. Then there are the signature birthdays, 21, 30 40 – 50 even and we marvel that we have man aged to reach each one, hopefully unscathed but enriched by our experiences thus far. According to one’s character one celebrates quietly or with an extrovert rave. The next decade marks anxieties about health, the need to save for an adequate pension and coping with the gloom that descends each morning when one looks in the mirror and sees the image of one’s parent. Other’s start to remark on the resemblance. The mortality debate hovers. Then there is the question of gifts. No problems buying for the males in my life but I struggle to buy presents for other females that I can’t relate to myself. I’ve never been able to buy anything for my daughter that she hasn’t rolled her eyballs at, so now it’s just gift vouchers and lately I cannot buy clothes for my tiny grand-daughter, whose mother’s taste centres around “Earth Child” colour schemes whereas I love brights. So I am resigned to only toys and books. I know I am wrong: it’s just a question of taste – which I ought to respect.
Someone sent me an e-mail this week reflecting on some of the more meaningful interpretations of ‘life’. One thought echoes behind: we are all equal when we die, we take nothing with us; the measure of our life is not what we left behind but how we are remembered.