Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another Year Older

and deeper in debt, well not true but certainly significantly poorer after the recent stock market meltdown has reduced my retirement savings more than somewhat.

Yes today is my birthday. Today I have reached the venerable age of 73 years. Last year on my birthday I pondered life expectancy. This year I am going to look back a little and ponder on how truly fortunate and blessed I have been for most of those years.

I was the first in my family to attend university although that was not an easy task, let me tell you. I grew up in a rather emotionally dysfunctional family although I did not know it at the time and things finally came to head when my severely clinically depressed father committed suicide when I was seventeen years old. I had won a scholarship to attend university and had hoped to study science and chemistry in particular, which was my first interest but these plans were shelved for a time.

I suppose you would say that we were part of the working poor, for while we always had enough for necessities there was nothing at all for luxuries, although my mother was an amazing manager of the money that my father earned. However his death put everything into disarray financially speaking and for the next several years my brother who had just finished his engineering studies at a technical college and I worked to support my mother and our household.

Finally I was able to go to university but instead of Science I studied Pharmacy since it allowed me to work and study at the same time. Eventually my mother qualified for a widow's pension and things became much easier for us. My brother married and moved to Perth and since my mother was now self sufficient I travelled to England on a working holiday, intending to return after several years.

Now look how that worked out as I got married in England, to another Australian it is true, but we came to Vancouver to live and here we are 47 years later. Together the "old scientist" who was the young scientist then, and I made a very satisfactory life here, brought up our two very healthy children and saw them well educated. Although, as is quite common nowadays, their careers have changed somewhat as the theoretical physicist is now the chartered accountant and the university French professor is now the high school French teacher. But we are very proud of them both and they seem content enough.

I had the luxury of being a stay at home mother for my children's early years and then working part time and finally full time when the younger one reached twelve and I went into hospital pharmacy where for the next 18 years I like to think I made a small contribution to society.

I have been very fortunate in that I have travelled extensively over the years to many interesting places and experienced other cultures. I have lived in three different countries in my lifetime, in two of the most exciting cities in the world, Sydney and London, and in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Vancouver.

While in these latter years I struggle with a weight problem I have been unbelievably healthy overall and I am so grateful for that. Better than most, I know how many things can go wrong with the human body through illness or trauma and so far I have enjoyed good health . Although there is always that niggardly thought in the back of my mind, when am I going to get my comeuppance.

Finally, after listening to my friends' stories of their grandchildren for years, at the age of 67 I became a grandmother and this young one has brought much delight to our lives even though she lives far away. The modern technology of the webcam along with visits to each other and amusing phone conversations have allowed us to share in her growing up in a way that was not possible even twenty years ago.

So the "old scientist" and I cruise happily along together, even after 47 years. Yesterday afternoon he said, "Do you want a new laptop for your birthday? Let's go out and look at them." My reply was "Oh no, I'm still thinking about it." PC? No, who wants to deal with Vista. Mac? Twice the price of the equivalent PC and hard to justify. Maybe by Christmas I will have decided. It's quite amazing how you can adapt to anything and this external keyboard is a very good one if a trifle large. I suppose I'll get some fancy soap for a birthday gift. He doesn't have any imagination and I'm sure he was hoping I would choose my own birthday present and he would just slap down his credit card. Hah! Think again!

So you see I have lived an amazingly fortunate 73 years on the whole and I am looking forward to more of the same. So Happy Birthday JMB, you have been truly blessed.



While in my mind I still feel like that confident 35 year old of so long ago, the mirror tells a different story. From last year's birthday post, the very pertinent last five lines of a poem written by Janice Thompson of Drinking the Moon called When did I grow old?

Now the hair on my head has gone whiter;

the wrinkles on the face deeper and wider.

Now the seasons pass by so quickly

the taste of death is in the air...

When did I begin to grow old?


43 comments:

Liz said...

You are as old as you allow yourself to be and that makes you 35, jmb! Anyone who has such a grip on second life has to be very young at heart!

Have a wonderful day! And Vista's not so bad!

jams o donnell said...

Happy birthday jmb. May there be many more. I agree with Liz in that you only let yourself be as old as you want to be.

Have a great day

Sienna said...

Happy Birthday JMB!!!

I'm not long home from Adelaide, South Australia and I just had an itchin' to visit you, little did I know how special the occasion.

It is my husband's birthday too, so you are both Scorpios.

He has had his favorite food, roast beef and vegetables, fruit salad and chocolate cake. I hope your day is as enjoyable.

I think your life story is very inspiring, and so interesting...life has dealt you and your family some big challenges.

My grandfather took his life at a relatively young age, it sure leaves questions and issues. But we do our best, we grab hold of life and just do our best.

Have a wonderful day, a toast to you, and continued good health and contentment...Canada is lucky to have you.

Pam

Mar said...

Happy birthday, jmb!! wishing you a wonderful day!
I was very moved reading your story, thanks for sharing it here.
Birthday greetings all the way from Spain!

Colin Campbell said...

Keep on taking the tablets JMB. Isn't it great that your major issues are whether to go Vista or Mac? Now that is stress.

Tom Paine said...

Many happy returns of the day, JMB. You seem to have the secret of staying young at heart. My parents are about the same age and far more tentative with computers. They do have one, but use it only in the most basic way and would certainly never blog or venture into Second Life. Long may your extended youth continue. You should have let the Old Scientist flash the plastic for a MacBook though. I am just setting up my new MacBook Pro (this is my first comment using it) and it's a joy. Life's too short for poor food, cheap wine or Windows.

Dragonstar said...

A very happy birthday to you, and many more to follow.
I'm not keen on what I see in the mirror these days, because I'm only young - honest!
Like they all say, ignore the lying mirror - you're not old at all.

rlbates said...

Happy Birthday! and many more

Carver said...

Happy Birthday JMB! I didn't realize our birthday was so close together. This was a great post and reinforces my impression of your strengths and grace. You have been through so much in your life and have come through it with flying colors. I raise my glass to you on the date of your birth and here's to many, many more birthdays.

Smalltown RN said...

Happy Birthday JMB...what a wonderful post....you know what they say....age is in the mind.....I think you are very young minded.....no where near going down the "old road"...hope you have a fantastic day!

Rositta said...

A very Happy Birthday Jmb, and many many more. PC...Mac? Take the Mac and run...I wish I could get one but my money is gone too in the crash, sigh. Things will get better...ciao

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Ha! Don't give me all this "old" stuff, you wouldn't be able to tell it from SL. Call it experience ^_^

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And many more to come.

I guess IOU a new SL outfit for your Birthday.

Expat Traveler said...

Happy Birthday!!!!! And I noticed your age turned to 73 and bells went off in my head... Congrats and I do hope you shop around long and hard to decide.. I agree - Vista - yuck, MAC 's are incredible if you can fish out the doe for the software, you won't be disappointed. I have both by the way.. Mac's are easier and more robust. PC's are cheaper...

Mrs Mecomber said...

Happy Birthday!! I am sorry to read about your retirement funds, though. :(

Shades said...

Happy birthday, you Technophile you!

KAYLAPEARSON.COM said...

very nice blog i wish you the best

Donnetta Lee said...

Happy birthday, jmb: You sound so blessed. And the world is so blessed to have you in it! D

Phil A said...

Yes I agree with many of the coments.

I suspect no matter how many birthdays you eventually manage to rack up you will never really be old.

Happy Birthday JMB!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Happy birthday, jmb! And that is a lovely post.

Dr.John said...

You know from your blog I thought you were much younger. Why your older than I am and I thought I was old. I'm glad your in good hesalth.
It is also good to read that ours isn't the only marriage that goes on and on and the love never ends.
Happy birthday JMB

Sean Jeating said...

Happy birthday, jmb.
And if I may say so: You're looking younger than ever. :)

YTSL said...

Hi JMB --

Just got the news from over at Liz's blog re your birthday. Came over to wish you a happy one and year and now after reading your post, think congratulations also are in order -- re your achievements and interesting life-path led thus far.

Re computers: I got a new one to replace my over 5 year old one a few months ago. Bought it from a computer expert who found out that Lenovos still offer(ed) a Windows XP option -- at least here in Asia. You want to check that out? Then maybe the "old scientist" might have a non-soap birthday gift to give you after all. :)

Janice Thomson said...

Hope you had a wonderful day JMB and many more to follow. You have an interesting life and much to share with us - as Pam mentions Australia's loss and Canada's gain.
I totally forgot that poem although I'm sure feeling it these days :)

Trubes said...

Happy Birthday JMB and many more to come.
We too are horrified at the loss of value in our 'pension pots'....Where oh where has all our money gone? We havn't got it, so, somebody, somewhere must have it.

Enjoy your birthday celebrations.

Di.

CherryPie said...

Happy Birthday and I am sure there will be many more yet :-)

Sue said...

Happy birthday! My daughter was 13 on the 7th and we had a big party for her yesterday :) I am just making my rounds and visiting the blogs today, and wanted to take a moment to wish you all the best!

Ellee Seymour said...

You are definitely 73 years young. Have a great birthday. You have given me much to aspire to. I get the feeling that you wouldn't change anything you have done, you have lived life to the full. :)

The Tin Drummer said...

Happy birthday jmb. And you seem very young from your writing! So can I echo some of the comments by wishing you very many more such days.

Eurodog said...

Happy Birthday, jmb.
Belated but heartfelt.

sally in norfolk said...

belated birthday wishes... hope iam still blogging at 73.

fake consultant said...

one good thompson quote deserves another:

"Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish—a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow—to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested . . . Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll."

--hunter s. thompson, from the "gonzo papers"
.

happy birthday, drive late, and have fun!

Crushed said...

Well, happy birthday!

I have Vista. Now I'm used to it, it's so much better.

jmb said...

I am completely overwhelmed by the number of people who left birthday wishes on this post.

Thank you all so much. I appreciate every single one of you visiting and commenting and I hope you don't mind this general comment, but know I do treasure each and every comment left here.

Ruthie said...

Birthday happies!

Cathy said...

Happy belated Birthday JMB! I know you will have many more and I hope your health stays good for a long time to come. I really feel like I know you much better now after reading this post. You have lived a very interesting life. And you have overcome many obstacles. I always look up to you!

Chrysalis Angel said...

I hope you had a great birthday! May you enjoy many more with your friends and family.

James Higham said...

Happy birthday, JMB. AT least you had it before you visited me.

Gracchi said...

Happy birthday JMB! Sorry I wasn't along sooner.

Nunyaa said...

Belated Birthday wishes JMB, I hope you had a lovely day, love and hugs from Queensland. x

jmb said...

Thanks again to those who have left good wishes. I do appreciate them all.

Ms Smack said...

I really enjoyed this post. I hope I live to a ripe old age with JUST as much accomplished.

Such a lovely insight into you.

:)

lady macleod said...

Lovely my friend, albeit I knew most of the tale it was fun to hear it again. MAC I tell you! MAC, trust me. :-) How old would you be if you were as old as you feel? There you go, you youngster!

lady macleod said...

Lovely my friend, albeit I knew most of the tale it was fun to hear it again. MAC I tell you! MAC, trust me. :-) How old would you be if you were as old as you feel? There you go, you youngster!