I have just experienced yet another life passage. It is really my daughter who turned 40 this week, but it has created a whole new set of feelings in my aging self. I remember a little girl of 5 who proudly drew pretty pictures for me to put on my walls. I remember her first pair of "Mary Jane" shoes as well as her first pair of "high heels" (even though they were only two inches high). I remember a paper brought home from school in which she described me as a "mom who was as beautiful as gold." I see a little girl in a ruffled blue party dress who couldn't fall asleep because her birthday party was tomorrow. All the memories are as clear as if they were yesterday. Weren't they just yesterday?
I also remember a young woman of 12 who was determined to make her single mother a surprise 40th birthday party. The party was held at a friend's house, and she had called all of the friends in her mother's address book to come to the party! I was really surprised when I knocked on my friend's door and saw people from work, some old friends, some suitors and some of the people from other activities. It was an eclectic group for sure, but it was what I had provided her without knowing it! My friend had invited two Chippendale dancers for entertainment, and the party was a real event! I remember it as if it was yesterday. It was yesterday, wasn't it?
As this beautiful young woman of 40 arrived at the door, I escorted her to the same backyard in which she had experienced most of her early birthdays. The flowers were in bloom, the trees were taller and the patio had been enlarged, but it was the same place that held so many precious memories. Now my little girl had bloomed into a loving wife, a successful business woman and an incredible mother. She had a large gardenia plant in her arms to add to those that we had loved to smell over the years, because that was one of the olfactory pleasures we had shared. The flowers smelled the same, the green lawn was the same, the house was the one into which I had carried her as a newborn. It was all so different and yet so much the same.
My father used to tell me to enjoy each stage in life because "You blink and everyone is grown." I used to tease him about saying the same things over and over again, but this time it was my turn. Suddenly it all made so much sense. Yesterday had passed by and I had "blinked." It is now my daughter's turn. My six grandchildren shared the big birthday cake. Some played basketball together by the garage, some ran in circles through the house with big balloons flying behind them, and the two year old opted for another cupcake which was mostly smeared over her happy face. It was time for me to be grateful although nostalgic, because we were all together and healthy and content. No, this time it wasn't yesterday, but it was last week. Of that I am sure, but oh, the sweetness of memories linger as I am looking forward to all the tomorrows.
This Thanksgiving might seem a little bit different this year. I have been reminded that my "big birthday" is only a little over one year away. Seven decades will seem like a lot of Thanksgivings to have experienced, but I will try not to think about that. After all, weren't they just yesterday?