“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most birthdays live the longest.” ~wry observation by that wit, Anonymous
Just had a birthday. Not a milestone birthday—apparently that is next year when I finally turn forty. Okay forty plus a lot more—but as I told a lady this week who I met in the grocery store and looked absolutely amazing for someone on the cusp of 80—it is only a number. No, it is not the age that I am turning that I find discomforting when I have a birthday; it is where I am as opposed to where I thought I would be.
A bit of a dreamer, lay philosopher (I say this with all humility—we are all philosophers as our beliefs are derived from the successes and failures we have experienced), seeker, and eternal student of life, I find that I am nowhere near to having fulfilled my dreams in some capacities, and far past fulfillment in others.
I share my birthday with Queen Elizabeth, and was once again disappointed this year when I did not receive an invitation to tea to celebrate the occasion together. Did not even get a birthday card from her. Now, of course, I am joking—but when I told a group of friends of my disappointment at a birthday lunch, one of the women said—“Well, did you send her a card?” I just love it when people make these kinds of observations—how can I expect her to know that we share a birthday? So, next year I will send her a card and see what happens. Or maybe I will send her one of those “Sorry, I’m late” cards that I am so fond of—really, most of them are much more clever than the ‘on time’ birthday cards, probably because they tend to make grovelling humorous.
My second disappointment at reaching the age that I am now is that Margaret Atwood has not yet fulfilled her promise to have tea with me. After all, she is the mother of Canadian literature, and a bit of a heroine to me. Once, when she signed one of her books for me, I asked her to put an invitation to tea on the inside cover of the book. Slightly puzzled, and looking askance at me, she did as I requested, probably to get the line moving so she could scrawl her lovely signature in the next book, hoping that the next devoted reader would not make a stupid request. Now Peggy, as I like to think of her, lives on Pelee Island part-time, so it would not be that much of a stretch for her to invite me to tea. (And I would be happy to fight a bout of seasickness to join her.) But, just as I was reminded by my friend that I had not sent the Queen a card, I remember that Peggy does not have my address. I think I may just send it to her and see what happens.
My third big disappointment is that I do not have a butler. Seriously. When I was in my early twenties, I was determined to have a butler. I thought that one had “arrived” if one had a butler. Now, of course, with the responsibility and need for a butler, comes a certain way of life. At my particular juncture, it would be very silly for me to have a butler, and admittedly, it does sound like the yearnings of an unbalanced, albeit harmless, being. But, think about—would it not be nice to have an Alfred–Batman’s wise butler who gives good counsel, and sets out your bat outfit just so? Or what about the butler in the “Family Affair”, Mr. French—I think that is where I first became aware of butlers. Servitude was not the essential element, but kindness and words of wisdom were. I would love to have someone who would guide me ever so gently through life, as these two did, and Alfred continues to do.
I have a number of goals I still want to achieve, which are not quite as “out there” as having tea with the Queen or Margaret Atwood and hiring a butler. Being somewhat of a late bloomer, I am sure I will reach many of them. On reflection, (which is part of what birthdays are all about) I have lots to be grateful for, and lots to look forward to. I will leave you with my husband’s standard birthday joke which I find strangely comforting: “If you can’t stay young, at least you can stay immature.”