Thursday, October 30, 2014

This is a Milestone: Sixty

We didn't take very many pictures when I was little, so whoever was around got in on the fun. Big brother was in school, Baby brother was napping, so Mom took a picture of Middle brother and me on my fifth birthday. Possibly grandparents were coming over for cake when Big brother came home from school. I don't remember, but this I do know. The table, the chair, the cake plate, and possibly the tablecloth, maybe even some of the clothes and the card if we dug through boxes, are still in the house where this photo was taken fifty-five years ago today. I am among the lucky few who turns 60 with both my parents living nearby in the house where I grew up. 
Turning five was a milestone. I was no longer a toddler, but a girl, old enough to take some responsibility. I started school, first grade, the next Fall as a five year old. 
Birthday milestones? I remember turning seven and treating my class to Tootsie Pops. No food police back then. I remember getting the playhouse that Dad and Grandpa built for me. There was the suede fringe jacket that marked my sweet sixteenth birthday. I still have it. It is still gorgeous, but it doesn't fit me.
The first adult milestone birthday was when I turned thirty-five and I was busy. Joseph was born that day. Nearly four weeks early, it was a happy surprise when he joined the party. I expected that he would be my youngest child. That was the day when I knew that I was no longer young. 
I wasn't exactly old either. So my age didn't matter very much to me. As I aged, I was reassured that 40 was the new 30 and 50 was the new 35. 
Everyone is fabulous.
Until today, when I turned 60.
When you turn 60, you are officially old. You are not fabulous in a youthful way any longer or ever again. No one tries to pretend about that, at least no one around here. And I have to admit, it is a relief.
A few weeks ago, when I realized I would indeed turn 60, I thought about trying to choose the 60 happiest days of my life.
 If I could choose 60 days of my life to live over, which would I turn to? There are far too many happy memories to choose only 60. Sometimes I imagine being young again. It doesn't work well, because I carry my perspective back in time with me. I can never be young again. 
And when I thought about the reverse... Are there 60 days I would wish away from my life? I don't think that I have had 60 very bad days in my 60 years. 
My life has not been perfect, but I wouldn't erase anything. Difficulties carry lessons that have made life richer and more meaningful. I wouldn't want to live with the unintended consequences of missing out on the lessons learned.
What if I could have three wishes? I think I know what they would be. 
One of them would be a wish for more time or the ability to do things more quickly. I find I am slower than I once was. It frustrates me. 
I wish fairy tales could come true. I want happy endings.
But I have learned that in this life all healing is temporary. Medicine is wonderful, but limited. Lazarus is dead now and that is my fate as well. My Christian faith is important and I do believe there is life after death. I have always struggled with transitions, so I can't claim much joyful anticipation for the afterlife. The best I can muster is to live with the hope of God's grace. 
Life amuses me. GriggsDakota agrees with me. Life at every age has been about doing my best and being my best. I expect that to continue now that I am old.
I dislike winter in April, hot days before August, and dry Summers. I respect Winter for what it is. Time keeps flying by. 
I like dark Winter days, vacations in Florida, and my family. And liking my family is the greatest joy in my life.
So thank you family, friends, acquaintances and readers far and near. 
Sixty will be just fine.


  1. Happy Birthday!
    I've been reading your blog for a long time and enjoy the details of a life so very different than my own.
    My husband's birthday is also today, so we have been talking over many of the things you mentioned in your post.The whole aging process is somewhat of a challenge. I think we would all do well to practice what you said in one of the paragraphs above. "The best I can muster is to live with the hope of God's grace"
    Enjoy your day! I'll look forward to reading more in the future.

  2. What a beautiful and wise perspective on life... Happy Birthday Jane and may you be blessed with many more!
    Anna Schuler

  3. Happy Birthday! This is a great post-same thoughts here-husband turned 60 this year and I'm right behind him.

  4. Happy, Happy Birthday!!! Sixty is such fun!! Enjoy your day and have a healthy and loving year!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Happy Birthday Jane! I only hope I can be as fabulous as you are when I turn 60! Thank you for such honest and inspiring words. Wishing you a wonderful day and a life that I know will always be filled with family, friends, farming and faith.

  7. Happy birthday to my dear friend; how the years have flown by! Regardless of the number of years or miles that separate us, I count you among my earliest, most constant and closest friends. I think of you often and will always admire your many attributes: Kindness, generosity, strong faith, love for family and friends, and your beauty inside and out. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and year, and many many more to come. Always, with my love.

  8. Happy Bday to Katie's mom! I have only met u once a a Richland football game this fall. But I am sure u are fun and loving like Katie! I enjoy following u both online. Have a great day and good luck with harvest! Cara Myers

  9. Happy Birthday Jane! You are an amazing lady and I consider it a privilege to call you my friend. I think so often of the years we had together in Grand Forks--so many special memories. Hope you have a wonderful day of celebration. Loved your comments on the blog. Miss you-Cia

  10. Happy birthday, roomie. Your writing and photography talents are just the tip of the iceberg. Hope your "round" birthday is fabulous. Blessings to you and yours always.

  11. Happy Birthday Jane! Hope you had a wonderful day, They say 60 is Over The Hill, if that's true it looks pretty amazing on the other side. So you should fit right in, because you're one amazing Lady. Hope all your Birthday wishes came true.
    The Lee Family

  12. We hope you had a wonderful birthday, Jane! 60 must feel great - especially for someone who appreciates all the important gifts that are around them everyday. Thanks for sharing your positive point of view!

  13. Happy Birthday Jane! Beautifully written.
    You were one of the first women I met when I had just moved to Grand Forks and I remember thinking I'd be okay there since there were obviously smart, creative, caring women in town. Enjoy your celebration with your family!

  14. Belated Happy 60th Birthday Jane! I remember your 35th when Joseph was born as a special day.
    After my last birthday, I am now closer to 70 than 60, but I enjoy each day and year as a gift.
    I appreciated your reflections on your Milestone Birthday.

    Marsha R.