Sunday, September 2, 2018

2018.09.02 Eighty Is Eighty

This is how my 80th birthday celebration went.  I’ve written about this in many ways in different sites, but I’m not done celebrating. 

I was born August 7, 1938. My husband Dick was born also on August 7 but in 1941. His brain is three years younger than mine. That’s helpful at my age! (Photo November, 2017)
We decided in 2018 to celebrate our one day twice—one dinner out for my day and one for his. The first dinner was at a new Indian restaurant, Nirvana in Cambridge. We love Indian food and had scheduled our reservation early, 5:30—the hour of dining for oldies and what I’d sworn I’d never do. We expected nirvana. When we arrived we were greeted by the noisy, messy chaos of a birthday party for a group of eleven-year-old boys, complete with birthday cake and a food fight. So we talked about memories of being wildly pre-pubescent ourselves and memories of being parents of seven children and a few grandchildren in the same state of explosive life.

Our second chosen restaurant is a favorite neighborhood restaurant—Italian, Dick’s heritage. We are friendly with the staff. I have learned a few Italian words and some of the wait staff speak Spanish. It’s the restaurant we went to nearly every night when we first moved to Cambridge eight years ago and were waiting for our appliances to be installed. We were sure we’d be feted and treated like the regulars we are, and especially with a high profile birthday. However, both managers were on vacation, the place was hopping with people who had spilled out and into the restaurant from an event in nearby Danehy Park, and they were understaffed and rushing around, even had the bartender waiting tables. They hardly noticed us. We talked about the spirituality of patience, finally agreeing that it was for the saints, or at least the birds.  Spoiled, privileged, entitled, yes, but not guilty. Prego.

We got off to our two weeks' vacation in Nantucket the next day. Even the ferry food tasted good, and the sun shone brightly as the sea breeze unruffled our feathers. We were almost afraid to try again at our favorite island restaurant, 56 Union. We waited till Monday, a low night we hoped, and we went at 7 p.m. As we came in the hostess asked us if we’d like to be seated in “the quiet room.”  Ah!  Aging is good.

At the end of our birthday month after we were back home, my four children, all from Connecticut, came to take me out for lunch on Sunday August 26. They had asked what I wanted and I told them I wanted to be together with them—just them, no spouses or grandchildren. They thought we could meet somewhere equidistant, but I said I wanted them to come here. One daughter had never seen where I live in retirement. And so it was. Our lunch at Artistry on the Green in Lexington, was elegant, quiet, and relaxed. No agendas, no need for deep confessions, no leftover family kvetches, no pressurized joy. It was perfect, which doesn’t mean there was no chaos in each life. That was put aside for the day. It was a ritual as holy as Sunday church or my birth day, Sunday. They gave me a funny card, a multi-colored piñata signed with little love notes from each one of them, and a gift card for the Seaside Motel in Maine where we for years have spent Thanksgiving week and celebrated our wedding anniversary, November 23.  And they paid the tab.
(Robert William, 51,III, Jill Barlow, 54, Lynda Gillespie, 80, John Thomas, 47, Beverley Ann, 55—all Brakeman)

Eighty for me is not the new 60, or 40. Eighty is quiet of soul—glory, gratitude, humor, love, and good looks thrown in.