Turning Into An Age

age, mothers, daughters, birthdays

Blowing away age myths.

My mom just turned ______.

Well, I’m not going to fill in the blank. Let’s just say she turned yesterday.

When we celebrate a birthday, why do we exclaim that we’ve “turned”? Like, “Joe just turned 60 and he’s so grumpy.” Or Jilly turned 13 last week and is now a true teenager.”What happens to us, when we “turn” into a new age? Do the wrinkles around our eyes suddenly crease deeper? Do our muscles turn stiffer, or weaker, on our birth date?

Or is it more ethereal than that. Do we suddenly turn into a “new” person, a different person,because the calendar says we’re now one year older?

All I know is that if I filled in the blank in the first sentence of this post , my mom would never talk to me again. Or worse, she’d talk to me, but believe me, her words would not be loving or kind.

And I understand that  –  now.

age, age discrimination, birthdays, mothers, daughters

Cute as a button, at any age.

When I was a child, I never knew my mom’s age. She never revealed it to my brother and me. Of course, at 5, or 10, or even 15, who cares how old our parents are? They’re ancient and we’ll never be that old.

But I do remember the time, when I was in my 20s, when my mom turned a certain number, let’s guess 53, and she told everyone at the birthday party that she’d just “turned” 43. I did the math, and wondered if she really gave birth to me when she was only a teenager. Because all along, I’d been told she didn’t have her first child until she was almost 30.

I approached my dad with the sensitive subject. He kind of smiled nervously, shrugged his shoulders, and suggested I ask my mom. From the nervous tic in his shoulders, I figured that was a bad idea.

For years after, I noticed that my mom gave a different number to her age anytime my bro or I asked her. One month she was 51, another time 48, three months later, maybe 52. And we were in our late 30s by then!

By the time I was 40 and lying about my age as competently as my mom, I snuck up to my dad and begged  him to tell me how old mom was. He shook his head at me in disappointment.  As sagely as the good witch telling Dorothy that all along, all she had to do was click her red heels to go home, my father said, “All you’ve had to do is check out her driver’s license.” After a pause he added, “but don’t ever tell her I gave you that advice!”

birthday, birthday party, greatgrandchildren, parents, mother/daughter

Sharing her wish with great-grandson, not her age.

So, I’m ashamed to admit right here, to my readers across the world, that I did just that. Me, a parent, an upstanding citizen with no arrest record (and just one speeding ticket…or two), flew across the country to supposedly “visit” my mother. Then I sent her off for an errand, and like a thief lusting for a hidden diamond ring, I peeked into her purse and found her driver’s license.

There it was – in black and white and I felt sorry all over.

mother, grandmother, age, birthday

Teaching her grandson that attitude is everything.

What did it matter how old she was? Age is only a number. Attitude is everything. She looks at least 20 years younger than her “licensed” age, she acts 30 years younger (I’ve been known to whisper to friends who ask: “my mom is 80 going on 18”). She’s beautiful and trim, laughs a lot, surrounds herself with delightful friends, yells at me if I try to carry her suitcase when she visits (“I’m perfectly capable, thank you!”), and reads voraciously.Honestly, I can’t keep up with my mom – her energy is friskier than a puppy’s, yet her wisdom hits the mark whenever I need a mother’s words to get me through life’s kinks.

 “People have perceptions of what 60 is supposed to be, and 70, and 80 and beyond. I don’t want to be categorized,” she insists.

Mom, I salute you.

And I’m so glad you didn’t “turn” into anything other than your most wonderful self on this birthday.

mother and daughter, birthday, age

Mother and Daughter – Ageless

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead

torpedo, age,make a differenceDo you remember what it was like to be 25?

Me neither.

Although some of my wonderful blog followers ARE around that magical age; most of you are … ahem… beyond it.

So let’s go back. What was it like? To be young and unfettered and feasting on the newness of adulthood and freedom, relationships, and a wide world open for exploration and delight.


For me, the wide world was confusing and frustrating. So much to do and learn, yet so confining for a woman in the late 1970s, married, no children, ready to make a ‘mark’ and yet wondering what mark to make.

I had a graduate degree in literature, but could only get hired as a secretary or a teacher (or billboard saleswoman, but that’s another story).  My family couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t pregnant yet and making a ‘life’ literally and figuratively.  I was, after all, 25!

Ahh, how things have changed.

Flash to this spring, when my marvelous nephew arrived to spend a little quality r & r time with his aunt (me), cousin, and brother here in the bay area. He turned 25 on this visit and his 25 is so different from mine.

X is involved with the D.C. political world (working for Senators from two states that begin with an “N” and end in an “A”). He lives in the city of large egos and bigger mouths, and despite his decency and decorum (or because of it) he is surviving.

No, more than that, he’s thriving and learning and MAKING A DIFFERENCE, something I strived to do at 25 but with much less success.

X has a few bumps and bruises, but he’s crashing down that wall between childhood and adulthood, between the naivety of  youth and the cynicism of experience, between wanting to do it all to realizing that what he can do, should be done with gusto and fervor and faith.

And truly, even at our age, whatever that may be, isn’t that how we want to live our life?

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Wow, that’s an old expression from the American Civil War (!), yet that’s what pops in my mind when I think of my nephew. At 25.

We should all exist like we’re 25, and damn the torpedoes of ‘life.’

Full speed ahead.

25, age, D.C., make a difference