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Life Chez Dee Episode #62: Officially Quinquagenarian

On Sunday 3rd May, it’s my birthday. It’s a milestone birthday; a big one; the day I turn 50; my half century; the big Five O. I used to think it sounded old … but now it’s my turn, and I’m not so sure. Fifty years ago I was born; 3rd May 1970, which also was a Sunday … a 70s child; and a child born on the Sabbath, which according to the rhyme, means I’m bonnie, blithe, good and gay. I have now lived 18,263 days and today sees me officially a quinquagenarian. God that sounds old, so let’s bring it down a little … I’d be 7 in dog years, 14 in cat, and only scoring a low 14 in a game of scrabble.

I’m as old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth, as my great uncle would always say. Well I can honestly say that I still have my own teeth … well except for those which are filled, and of course those which I knocked out and which were sorted with crowns. Everything else is my own … knees, hips, boobs, even hair … there may be one or two grey ones beginning to glisten as the light catches them, but my natural colour is still there for all to see.

My grandma used to say that if the wind changed my face would stick … and so it did it seems, with worry lines and a few wrinkles; hopefully the laughter lines outweigh the other lines, and my face is one of love, compassion, and integrity too. My eyes are getting more long sighted as the years go by, and you'll rarely see me without my statement reading glasses on my head ... indeed there's rarely a photo of me these days without glasses on my head. My knees seem to have sprouted a couple of veins, age managed what even carrying three children couldn’t it seems, and my waistline has thickened somewhat and now carries a fair amount of spare tyre … sadly, the button fastening on the trousers never lies! I carry physical scars, and emotional scars, but they are there because they were part of my life; my story.

I’ve reached that gynae age known as the peri menopause, which I seem to have been catapulted into after surgery a couple of years ago, I’m all over the place hormonally and emotionally, but with my new supply of vitamins for the over 45 female, and my daily dose of starflower and Vit D, I’m hoping I see some massive improvements in my health and wellbeing.

Yesterday I was pondering how my birthday might be at a time of very strange and unusual circumstances, whether I would see anyone, whether friends or family would drive by or walk by to wave me a socially distanced birthday wish. I started making a birthday cake for myself. I so desperately wanted a cake to be made for me, but I knew that there wasn’t really a chance of this happening. Feeling in need of doing something special, I decided to bake myself a birthday cake. I knew that I wouldn’t get a homemade cake otherwise, or indeed any cake for that matter. It’s quite remarkable that Justin has NEVER made a cake, nor has William (unless you count his disastrous attempt at Lemon Cake for Food Tech at High School). Edward regularly baked, with me, as well as independently … so independent I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the kitchen. Oliver loves to help me bake too, and I think home schooling may feature some instruction following and independent baking from him over the course of the next few weeks.

I decided, as I was feeling rather sanctimonious for making my own cake, that I’d make my choice of cake, and plumped for mocha. Given that I’m really missing the Booths café large mocha treats at the moment, I thought this would be rather nice. No fancy decorations except for some crumbled flakes which I found in the cupboard, my cake has more substance than style, but I know for sure it will taste delicious. So that’s all ready for tomorrow … and if there’s any snaffling of it before then, there’ll be trouble. Hmmm … I wonder if I have 50 candles though ….

Do I feel my age? Do I feel as though I’ve lived 50 years? Yes and no, some days it feels as though I’ve been here forever, and yet I don’t really feel much different if I’m honest. I certainly don’t feel like I’m that old, and still feel like the same person I always was, and the fact that I am still here, able to be celebrating this birthday, alive and well, is wonderful. I’m proud to be 50, and I thank God for another year. So many people don’t reach 50, and far too close to home I am reminded of this each and every day, and so embracing this milestone is what I will do, knowing first hand that this is a privilege denied to so many. I’m awfully touchy now about anyone who moans about getting old. How I wish so much for my Edward to have been given a chance to see old age. How much he could have done; how much he still had left to give. Living life to the full, at full speed, enjoying each and every day as if it were a gift, as if it were his last.

Yes a lot has happened in my life, and with those experiences, and particularly tough experiences, these have undoubtedly changed and shaped me. But so much of my character and my personality traits are there, still there, same as ever. I have grown in confidence as I’ve aged, I’ve gained knowledge, and I’m wiser through experience, but I’m still full of all that self doubt I’ve battled with all my life, which forever nags me. I am very much my own critic, and often doubt myself, my capabilities, my likeability, my ability, my achievements, my worth, and there is so very much I dislike about myself, and such thoughts haunt me far too often. I know that if I were to describe myself, it would likely be very different to how others describe me, as you never see yourself how others see you.

I’m a typical Taurean … headstrong, stubborn, feisty, opinionated, forthright, but I’m also honest, loyal imaginative, creative, artistic, and I’m actually incredibly sensitive. I like music, literature, art, theatre, songs, musicals, words and writing. I like baking and cooking (as long as it’s nothing too fancy), and of course I need to include drinking milky tea in my list of likes. I like and tend to expect honesty, bravery, and loyalty; I trust others, and am deeply hurt if that trust is broken. I dislike with a passion those who are fickle, spineless, woolly, disloyal and dishonest, and I hate not being heard, or dismissed. And of course I dislike with a passion Jim Carrey films; sci fi movies; fish paste; chewing gum; cigarettes and feeling cold.

I do my best to fit in as much as I can to be a good mum, wife, daughter, friend; aiming to do all I can for family, friends, community and charity. I try to make everyone proud; I hope I do … but I know I will always be trying to do more, and be more for everyone.

I’ve taught myself over the years, to give myself a good talking to. To tell myself to take a step back and take a look at the many achievements I can be proud of. I find it hard to love my imperfections, and embrace that I am perfectly imperfect, that there are flaws, and that sometimes I make mistakes; I’m a perfectionist but I’m challenging myself to be more comfortable with who I am. I am me, with my own thoughts and opinions; and whether or not people want to accept these doesn’t matter, what matters is my own acceptance; of me.

Since having the children, I have devoted my life to them, and they have always come first. I gave up work to be a full time mum, and witnessed every aspect of my children growing up. It wasn’t easy giving up a good full time wage, but the fact that I was able to devote so much time to the children far outweighs this sacrifice. I have witnessed every milestone and significant event I can think of, and been there for every assembly, school play, as well as greeting them every home time from school. I am fortunate to have so many memories, and I’m thankful that I could spend all this time with them. Memories are all I have of Edward, and I’m glad I have no regrets as to not having spent enough time with him. I think my children are what fills me with the most pride. I have given so much of myself to my children, and I am immensely proud of each and every one of them. William isn’t far off adulthood, and certainly not far off A levels, and fleeing the nest to embark on his next chapter as University looms, which seems to have come round far too quickly. He’s definitely his own person, with his own views and opinions … which clash quite a lot with my own … but I know I will miss him desperately when this time comes.

Of course William judges me as old, as he does with all who only use one finger when they’re texting! And of course I feel old when I go to parents evenings at college, and indeed that was the same at high school, and the teachers don’t look old enough to be teaching per se, in fact many look so young I can hardly believe they’re not still in school.

Oliver is another little whizz kid both academically and musically, and yet a totally different personality to William. Will he follow in William’s footsteps? I seriously doubt it; he is his own little person, and knows his own mind. He has a lot of Edward in him, and I snatch so many glimpses of Edward as I watch Oliver doing so many things. He’s got quite a bit of Edward’s character in him too, and that shines through in his determination, cheekiness, humour, enthusiasm, energy, and of course feistiness.

Oliver of course, finds it hard to believe that I’ve ever been young, and would also put me in the “old age” bracket given my incompetence with technology, computers, gaming … or even working the television.

Edward of course, I’m forever proud of. The work which is being done in his name is incredible, and the legacy he has left is immense.

My life though seems to be broken up into chapters of before we were married, before we had children, and before and after Edward died. Life is not the same without Edward, and every day is marred by this. Every single day, even when we’re having the most wonderful day, in the midst of happiness and laughter, there’s the sadness too, that Edward isn’t with us. I do feel though that Edward’s spirit is always by my side, and guides me in so much that I do. We don’t know what the future has in store for us, I could never have known some of the horror which life was going to throw at me, and I have no idea what the next chapter of my life will bring, no doubt there will be more sadness to come, but there will also be much happiness too, but whatever comes my way, I welcome it all without expecting anything.

Go back a hundred years or so and not many people would survive beyond 50, and if that isn’t a reality check, I’m not sure what is. My grandma, and her brother, and their mother all lived well into their 90s and so having this longevity in the family is somewhat a relief. Dad’s dad however died young, and I never actually got to meet him. I remember my Dad saying so often when he was my age, that he was older than his dad was when he died, and he’d often say in jest that he was on borrowed time. We’d dismiss this as another of Dad’s many, many sayings and words of wisdom, and put it down to his dark humour. But many a true word is spoken in jest; we are on borrowed time. Time waits for no man; we can’t turn the clocks back; time only moves forward. Thankfully, I still have the ability and capability to do so much. I will only get older, and so right now I am still in my youth. I am young, but experienced, and I’ve experienced enough to know the importance of what should be a priority in life, and to know that living life is a priority. To begin to understand the meaning of life.

It is only recently I have discovered writing, and discovered too that this is something which I both enjoy, and have a flair for. I’ve learned so much about myself, and have found wonder in the ordinary, and I will continue to use my mind, talents and creativity to bring joy to my own life and the lives of others. I write so much about family and friends, and often wonder what they would write if roles were reversed. How would they see me?

Friends and relationships have changed over the years. Some who have drifted away; others have stood by me, encouraging, helping, supporting, and for that I thank you; our friendships are even stronger. I’m blessed to have made some new and beautiful friendships, those who understand me, who really get me completely, are really special.

I am incredibly lucky. I have a wonderful husband, a confidante and best friend, who is always at my side. We make up a strong family unit, and this year we will have been married 19 years. We’ve always shared the same dreams and goals and I’ve no doubt that this will be the same for many more years to come. My life ahead is positive and one which I view with optimism, and with good luck, good health, and with God on my side, I hope this continues for many years, maybe another 50, through the milestones of 60, 70, 80, 90, or even beyond.

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