My mother, had she been alive today, would have turned 89.
I went to morning mass and prayed for her and by so doing remembered her mother who had been wild with delight at the birth of her second child, a beloved girl, younger sister to her three year old brother.
And again, for the umpteenth time since her death I begin to think of my own mortality.
Mummy was 29 when she had me and so when my time clock began showing an interest in its estimated life span, I was assured each year when May 8th rolled around and my mother was still a-tingle with life, that I had at least another 29 years to go! How maudlin is that?!
Today I have 27!
It’s as if I have an expiration date stamped on the base of my spine.
I reason with myself that I cannot possibly know when I will expire, it could be now as I sit in front of my computer screen, or tomorrow on my walk or many morrows hence in my sleep perhaps.
Still, niggling questions pop into my head,
Dare I start something new?
Am I still relevant in my white hair and wrinkles?
Will I ever see my grandchildren?
More currently, will I ever unpack all the things I packed away in a hundred boxes last week when we moved out of our family home of 28 years?
Will I ever spend that long in one place again?
Who’s eye am I the apple of now I’m a well worn orphan?
Who cares about who I was?
Is anyone left who remembers?
Do I even know who I am now that the homestead’s gone and my memory-joggers are stowed away in characterless storage units?
My peers, those older people who attend daily mass with me, look like my grandparents.
Do I too? Or is that my heavily rose tinted mirror laughing at me?
When does the walking cane come out, the limp, the stoop, the laboured breath?
Over the course of a few months?
How long will I be able to walk with a spring in my step looking like a twenty-something from behind?
Will my decline be rapid or did the deterioration begin this morning with my first cup of tea…
Which helped me with perspective, let’s face it, if I spend my next quarter century worrying about getting old then I will rot like the lemon in my fruit bowl last night, bright and yellow on the side that showed, growing white mould on its underbelly and completely juiceless on its inside.
May 8th brings with it mixed emotions but at mass surrounded by my elderly friends I am reminded that God loves me so I stop the fretting for,
“…which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life…So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:27, 34)
Happy Birthday Mummy!