This year was a very special birthday. Most people don't know it, but I do try and set some living goals for myself. I originally set a goal to live long enough to raise my own children. This one I copied from my mother. She got her wish and with all my kids out of their teens now, I think I got mine. Sounding silly to you? I never understood her obsession with this small wish until I was a mother. I loved and still love my children so much that I wanted to be the one to bring them into adulthood, to be there to talk to them and encourage them and share.

I have had the opportunity many times to sit with my husband and happily discuss what we have accomplished as parents. There was always much love  in our home. Unique in so many ways, yet somehow familiar to many, we are a happy, loving family. Our home was also a kind of beacon. We took in the kids who did not have it quite the same and parented them as needed. Like little flashes of light here and there, we changed a great deal of darkness for some.

When my one son was in Europe for school, my sister died. He had only been there a few weeks. He could not easily come home. When it happened it was such a shock. Her daughter called and in her sing song voice, she told me she had something to say, could I sit down. So I did. I immediately thought she was calling to tell me she was pregnant or something like that. The next words were not pleasant. " My mother died." Yes. What?  From there was a cavalcade of emotion that nearly sank my ship. In a few moments time I had lived through the worst of it. Died in her sleep, no autopsy, she was sick with a flu or something. Later we were told it was her heart. How they knew that without an autopsy, we will never really know. She went on, her life was to be lived in her daughters. My sister was two years older than me. She was 56 at her death.

She was always two years older, not anymore. I am 57. As of yesterday, I reached a new age goal. I used to try and live until 66, at least until 66 I would tell myself. That is when my father passed away. He had been ill with recurring cancer. We knew it would happen. When this happened to my sister, my goal was different, I wanted very much to be 57. First, this number is a number that shows up many times in our lives, a kind of lucky one. Then it was the age my sister would never be, the very next year, the one that she was a few months shy of reaching.

So thoughts of this, ridiculous thoughts of this, occupied a small part of my mind since September. As the weeks and days grew closer to my birthday, I approached it with a kind of mixed feeling. I longed for some kind of talisman or stray bit of wisdom to invade my mind, to calm a growing anxiety. Finally over the weekend, I confessed my goal to my family and it was oddly welcomed. I was assured I would reach it and when my day came yesterday, my day to be 57, and I did reach my goal, my husband said to me, " I see you living a long life, just like your mother."  I said it is okay, I am ready for when I am called,  but "I am glad I made it to today, to 57."  It is all bonus from here on out. I appreciate each day and will not waste any. Maybe I am finally able to put my sister to rest. I am the older one now. 

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Comment by Sheila Luecht on December 11, 2012 at 1:40pm

Veronica! Yes, I knew my mother had them, because she told me that about wanting to live long enough to raise her own children. Her mother died young. So did one of her sisters. Everyone else  of her siblings (seven children) had a longer life, so did she. I am just sitting with some sense of relief today. It doesn't make all that much sense, even to me.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on December 11, 2012 at 1:46pm

HAPPYHAPPY, FRIEND!

Comment by Kim Gamble on December 11, 2012 at 1:51pm

Hi Sheila.

I'm very glad to have read this ~ thank you. Wish I could say more ; you said it all for me ...

Happy Birthday Sheila. Good to read you here.

Comment by Sheila Luecht on December 11, 2012 at 2:12pm

Thank you for the birthday greetings, Veronica, Jon and Kim. It is good to be here. I had to write this to help release it and I am happy to see old friends here who could read it. 

Comment by Chicago Guy on December 11, 2012 at 3:21pm

This is great. I know this train of thought well. I was real sick as a kid, started getting better at 13, but never really thought I'd make it past 30.Turns out that I wasn't in charge of like everything! Who knew! Now I'm an old guy.

Happy well earned birthday!

Comment by Sheila Luecht on December 11, 2012 at 3:46pm

Chicago Guy: Thanks. This is kind of like your experience, we have passed some kind of milestone. It feels good today.

Comment by Marty'sHusband on December 11, 2012 at 4:15pm

Yeah -- happy birthday.  At some point birthdays are less a celebration and more of an accomplishment.  Part of what Marty has wanted, part of what I have wanted for Marty is for her to see the next step of our children....she has and we are glad.  Congratulations on reaching your first goal.  Keep on.

Comment by Sheila Luecht on December 11, 2012 at 4:29pm

Marty's husband, thank you. I find that setting goals helps me. It is hard when some do not get met, but I try to modify and make the feeling of  something accomplished through even partial successes. 

Comment by Jeanne Sathre on December 11, 2012 at 5:15pm

Happy Birthday! I have a good friend whose mother died in her late 40's. She had a hard time when she approached that year and still feels odd that she's reaching ages her mother never did. But she's thankful. 

Comment by Sheila Luecht on December 11, 2012 at 5:22pm

Thank you Jeanne.

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