So today I am officially the title of a Beatles song. I find myself stunned by the number. I just don’t see how it’s possible when yesterday I was making my First Communion. Going to high school with my DC girls. Meeting my best friend, Jimmy Courage, at St. Francis College. Started an entry-level job at a company that was great way back then and at which I stayed for 33 years.
Marriage (the less said about that the better). Buying the first house, then buying the next one. The best part of me, the birth of my great kid. Moving out and moving on. Learning to live on my own without having to rely upon someone else. Finding out that it’s hard to raise a son on one income especially when his other parent has absented himself from my son’s life. Making the sacrifice to give up some things so he could have the same great Catholic school education I did.
Being given the Presidential Award at my company for doing outstanding work and then being told some years later that I was paid too much for what I did. Getting up at dawn to do everything you need to do to get your kid on the school bus and then commute 90 minutes to work. and then do it all in reverse. Watching the building I worked in for many years tumble to the ground on September 11, 2001. Meeting the love of my life and not knowing how my heart would be broken when he died far too young.
Going to almost every high school reunion and celebrating seeing so many people I didn’t get to see often enough and forging new friendships with girls whose path had never crossed with mine in high school. Discovering the joys of the Jersey Shore and enjoying those lazy Saturday afternoons when my darling Dad, my great kid and I would wander the boardwalk, play arcade games and eat hot dogs and custard.
Going to more weddings than I can recall. Sometimes feeling sorry for myself in a world where it seems everyone was part of a couple except me. Consoling my coworker when she experienced the worst tragedy a parent can know. Making the decision to retire early so I could spend time with both my son before he went to college and my parents for as long as God would let me have them.
Spending endless days and nights in the hospital during the last few weeks of my Dad’s life. Remembering to thank God for the privilege of being blessed with the world’s best parents. Sobbing as I said goodbye to my son as he headed across the country to start college. Being lifted up by my DC girls and my sister, Barbara, and my friends, Jimmy and Laurie, when I hit rock bottom and they rescued me in every way possible.
Visiting my Burke cousins in East Hampton and celebrating that I was part of a clan that was so incredibly brave and strong and compassionate and funny. Being so grateful I had the opportunity to work with my friend, Beth, in her great company helping so many people every day have a better quality of life. Deciding to move across the country so that we could be closer to my sister, knowing that my Mom was going to need more help than I was able to give.
Hearing that someone was shooting up Las Vegas, a few short blocks from where my son lived, and being weak with relief and filled with gratitude when I knew he was alright. Losing my beloved friend, Miss Beans, to that most horrible of diseases. Watching my mother fall and feeling guilty I hadn’t been able to catch her before she did so. And struggling with the terrible ordeal she’s gone through for months now, something that almost killed her, and being in awe of how she has fought back and back and back. Trying to be the best possible person I can as I help her navigate her days and nights because that is what she has done for me my entire life.
And tonight welcoming my great kid back home for good. The best possible birthday present there could be.
When I look back at the highs and lows, I know that I am a very lucky woman. I was born into a great family, not just my parents but my sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. I live in the greatest country on earth and I am blessed, if not with great wealth, with enough to live a comfortable life in my new adopted state. I have people I can call or text day or night and know that they will listen in a non-judgmental way and offer advice, comfort, consolation. And I get to write this little blog when something inspires me and I am ever so grateful to those of you who read it and reach out to me to tell me you liked it. You’ll never know how much your words mean to me.
So thank you to all of you who have shaped and formed and supported the person I am today. And I don’t even have to ask if you’ll still need me when I’m 64. Because I am and I know you do.