50 and…halfway there
It’s Tuesday, Oct. 20, and only hours before this newspaper goes to press. And it’s my 50th birthday. I hadn’t intended to write a column about turning 50 – it’s enough that I have to put a newspaper together on this momentous occasion – but something happened yesterday that I just had to share.
I was checking my messages on Facebook late Monday afternoon, and saw that there was a message from someone I didn’t know or recognize. I immediately got suspicious, but then I recognized a photo of my high school graduation. Then a few other photos that were attached to the message caught my eye as well. I quickly discovered that the message was from the 73-year-old son of the woman who babysat me from when I was an infant until I was about four years old. We lived in Scarborough, then, and moved to Uxbridge just before I turned five.
I was blown away. The son, whose name is Stuart, had been going through his mother’s things and discovered the many letters my mom and I had sent “Aunt” Dorothy over the years. Dorothy had moved her family to B.C. around the time we moved to Uxbridge. We parted ways physically, but the connection remained. The photos in the message were some of the ones my mom had mailed to Dorothy over the years.
The best part of the message from Stuart, however, was learning that Aunt Dorothy is still alive. She’s 102 years old, and although she’s nursing care with dementia and failing health, she’s still here. That means a great deal to someone who is hitting a milestone birthday and is facing her own mortality, in a sense. You see, Dorothy was only two years older than myself when she began taking care of me while my parents worked and went to university – and she was known as the street’s “granny” – at 52! Yikes.
But today, as I sit here a brand new 50-year-old, I realize that I could feel old if I let myself. I mean, there was a moment on the weekend when a couple of friends presented me with a cake that had two candles on it – a ‘5’ and a ‘0’ – and there was something very sobering about seeing that number on top of all that chocolate. But if I’m lucky enough to be at all like Aunt Dorothy, then I have just as much time ahead of me as I’ve had already, and I find that an exciting prospect! There’s still so much to do, to see, to experience, and I’m determined to remain optimistic as I continue my journey around and around the sun.
Stuart and I had a brief phone conversation not long after I first opened his message, and he sent me a video of him chatting with his mom about the letters he’d found. She doesn’t remember that time in her life, now, and to be honest, I, a little bit, wish she did, because it would be so fun to reconnect. But I look forward to knowing her son, and learning about what it takes to make however many years you’re given all worthwhile.