Age milestones have just never been a thing for me. I have watched my friends cringe and panic over birthdays ending in zero for years. I am certain that youthful memories play a significant role in adult behavior; and, I am no different.
My father had his first heart attack at 37. I was eight years old. Within ten years, our family endured multiple heart surgeries and incomprehensible lectures about preparing for the worst. While the story is heartwarming, amazing, and sad all at once, by the time I was eighteen he was gone.
I vividly remember the smells, the tears, and the bottomless well of loss as it seemed every grieving visitor whispered, "He was so young." At eighteen, 47 just didn't seem so young. Of course, at eighteen we all believe that we are immortal so age really is just a number. My loss did make me acutely aware that life is not only fragile but never guaranteed.
So 30 and 40 were not milestones to me. They were gifts - until my 47th birthday when my heart and soul experienced a jaw-dropping metamorphosis. At this same age, my father was fighting for his life, trying to protect his wife and children, and I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I now understood. 47 is "so young." For those of you cringing, and panicking, and dreading those horrific zero years, stop. Just stop. Celebrate every hour, every day, every year, every decade for what it is - the amazing gift of life. What I wouldn't do to celebrate my zero years - no, all of my years - with my dad.
On the other hand, as we all catapult through busy lives contemplating the speed of our demise, don't get me started about how we sometimes treat our elder contemporaries. I know of mothers, fathers, grandparents, and even siblings that want desperately to share their last days comfortably with friends, family members, and loved ones. They don't panic or cringe as birthdays come and go. They silently pray for one more. Their only panic is that they are alone. After all they have given, and all they have shared, not being alone is a selfless request.
We must never forget that these generations have raised our teachers, doctors, nurses, soldiers, technicians - this list goes on and on. Find the time, respect, and kindness to honor them. One day you will awake among their ranks. Give karma a reason to be kind. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.