On Sunday I reached the grand age of fifty-four. This is not usually a birthday of any great note – there are no special cards that say ‘Congratulations, you’re 54!’ on them like there are for other significant birthdays, such as turning eighteen or twenty-one. Or fifty for that matter.
No, for most people the fifty-fourth birthday is of no greater significance than their fifty-third or their fifty-fifth birthdays.
Unless of course, they’ve done something monumental in the past twelve months, like fighting cancer or heart failure or surviving a terrible accident or something like that.
In which case, as several of my friends have attested to as well as many thousands of people I don’t know who have made just such an achievement, they are grateful for every single day and the passing of a birthday is ever more important – clearly that’s simply great news, for them and for everyone else, because we all have a little bit of that essential life-enhancing emotion ‘Hope’, shining its light in our direction. At least for a little while.
Now, I haven’t made any such effort to achieve longevity in itself this year. I’ve just been ticking over, as you do, living from day-to-day, week-to-week passing the time living my life. Well, sort of. I’ve been in a bit of a rut this year, if truth be told.
Last year, my birthday was spent at the magnificent ‘Gregstock’ event.
For those who may not have been reading this blog last year, I’ll just let you in on the story so far – Gregstock was the name that my nephew, Lee, bestowed upon the grand reunion-come-birthday-celebrations party that my FAB hubby decided to host on my birthday last year. Many of his high-school friends with whom he had recently re-established contact were up for meeting up and as we had a suitable venue, the Mighty Zeds agreed to re-unite for a one-off concert, to be held in our garden as part of the whole reunion event.
The Mighty Zeds, all old friends of the FAB Hubby’s from high school – played a blinding set and definitely contributed to the ultimate success of the party and I was delighted to get to know some new friends after all this time. It was a great party, that (as all the best parties do) went on very late into the night and continued for much of the following day as well. I can’t remember when I’d enjoyed a birthday quite so much.
All that was three hundred and sixty-five days past and here we are, in a completely different place with much water under the proverbial bridge.
So why is it that fifty-four is so significant for me?
The answer is simple.
My mother was fifty-four when she died.
On the 21st October this year, I will be older than she ever was.
I’m not sure why this is so important or even significant for me. There is the same ultimate fate awaiting all of us, eventually, I am well aware of that, I’m pretty sure that we all are. I suppose it’s because I cannot imagine how it is that I might ever be older than she was.
Of course I can look back at my own life and be very proud of all my own achievements thus far – and I’ve never really held with the idea of comparing myself to others. Everyone has such different life experiences, to do so is simply nonsense. I’ve led a fairly extraordinary life and I have every intention of carrying it on for a very, very long time to come. I want to fill all those coming years with joy, love, happiness and many more extraordinary experiences and I’m pretty sure that I will make every effort to achieve that ambition.
This birthday then is the last that I live in my mother’s shadow. I think I’ll choose to relish that thought.
And I will thank everyone who sent me such wonderfully kind, thoughtful and generous birthday wishes. They really do mean the world to me.
On a small side note – I had lots of comments about the birthday cake that I made, which was a Summer Berry Gateaux of my own design – four layers of various fresh-fruited sponges (blackberry, strawberry, raspberry and blueberry with white chocolate) interspersed with fresh vanilla Chantilly cream and home-made (of course!) summer berry jam. It was delicious and I am very happy to post the recipe once I have the time to adapt it for my American friends – I do wish that one day we could all use the same measures, it would certainly make life simpler! Until then though, I’ll just leave you with a shot of the inside of the cake, where you can see the layers a little more clearly.
Thanks for reading once more my friends!