• Jane Leder

Hey, 77 Ain't So Bad After All

Okay, let's cut to the chase. No one in their right mind would expect that number seventy-seven would be much more than a ho-hum affair. Maybe a cake, a few cards, a dinner out. Hell, I didn't even bother to look for a new restaurant to try. Why bother? I'd just eat way more than I should and bust the snaps on the black pants that are already too tight.


So it was with little to no expectation that I started the first day of my seventy-seventh year.

Still in my Soma pajamas, I slithered out the front door. It was early but not too early for a few early rise and shiners to be up and about. I surveyed the garden that I'd sown, watered, weeded, coaxed, and was overwhelmed with what Mother Nature and I had created.




After my almost-mystic journey to the garden, I opened the gift sent to me by my sister--a gift that arrived early with the warning to not open until my birthday. The mailer was thin, and I supposed there was a paperback or a photo inside. Nope, it was a DVD labeled "Happy 77th." I don't know about you, but I haven't played a DVD in years. In fact, Apple hasn't put a DVD drive in its computers since 2013.


Luckily, my husband has hung onto an older Mac that does have a DVD drive. Once I powered on that computer and put the DVD into the drive, what I saw were snippets from 8 mm movies that were shot by my father beginning in the late 1940s when I was two. There I was running around the backyard, kicking up water in a blow-up swimming pool, spinning with abandon, and, as family lore had told and retold the story, hitting a playmate in the back of her head with a shovel made for sand, not humans. There it was on film. There was no way of me laughing it off as pure myth. Luckily, this playmate of mine didn't cry, and I walked away with a sly, mischievous grin.



I loved that little me. I was a badass with a stockpile of energy, a shit-eating grin, and a sense of play. At that moment, it felt as if she were calling to me, reminding me of all that made me vital and strong and, yes, even empathic (okay, maybe not the sandbox affair.) Her energy stoked mine. I was magically filled with ideas for how I wanted to move forward in my seventy-seventh year. How about a podcast? A trip to New Zealand? I was ecstatic!


All my dear "friends" on Facebook wrote on my "timeline" and sent the proverbial "Happy Birthdays." But there were a few, more creative and personal messages like the one from a high school friend with a photo of the two of us taken some twenty-seven years ago as we and thirteen other women celebrated our fiftieth birthdays. My friend and I held a black and white photo of a guy we'd both had a crush on in high school. He died earlier this year.


I am grateful that I'm still here with my faculties intact--well, most of them--and that as I start this seventy-seventh year I have chosen to look ahead and not in the rearview mirror. The past holds memories; the present and the future offer up opportunities to grow, enjoy, and love.


Happy birthday to me!









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