Well... now what?
I'm still forty. I was sort of hoping I'd wake up and it was all just a tacky Bobby Ewing dream sequence. (If you don't get that reference, I hate you.)
It wasn't. I'm still forty-years-old.
I would love to say that I spent my birthday laughing and joking and just in general having a nice celebration. I did have a fabulous time, if in your culture you consider crying so hard snot comes out your nose and no one can understand a single word you say a fabulous time.
However in this culture, it would actually be referred to as a great big old pity party. Woo-hoo!
As nuts as it sounds...even to me... I woke up the day after my birthday feeling very happy. Maybe it's early onset dementia, but somehow once the actual day was past, I felt much better. I'm still not quite at ease with the number 40, but I'm working very hard to accept it. To embrace it. To figure out how to make forty the new thirty.
I have been very reflective, though. I've been thinking quite a lot about my past. My childhood specifically. Isn't that what happens right before you die? Your life flashes before your eyes? (Oh Lord, I think my right arm feels funny.)
I was thinking about some of the lessons I've learned from my Daddy and Step-mom. Some of those lessons that you will never learn in school. Lessons that may seem insignificant in the hurry that is everyday life, but remain the very foundation on which you build your life.
From Ralph and Martha, I learned:
… that if you’re not careful, you really can eat cabbage all day.
…that the “hoo-rah bush” isn’t exactly the happy place it’s name might imply.
… that if Daddy says, “the dew berries are ripe”, you’d better get your bucket and commence to picking… even if you have no idea what a dew berry is.
… that little French poodles in love will not be deterred by shotgun blasts to their little French behinds nor will sixteen-year-old teenagers in love be deterred by their Father blasting the Star Spangled Banner while they are making out.
… that one week of cleaning and peeling apples will grow and grow over the years until a grown up child can tell her own kids, “Why when I was a kid, we didn’t have anything to eat but apples for an entire summer…. and we was proud to get ‘em!”
… that when you put your tomato wine under your house to let it age, you should put a lock on the door. (So as to deter the neighborhood crazy guy from crawling under there and getting a snoot full.)
… that the only two things more powerful than Daddy are God and your Step-mom… and sometimes God would just as soon let your Step-mom deal with him.
… that only a mother could convince five children that crackers and mayonnaise are a wonderful delicacy that they are lucky to get.
… that the best cooks always wash their okra before they cut it up.
… that walking through a smelly pasture full of cow poop and bees can turn into one of the sweetest memories of your life.
… that sometimes the joy of burning a bon fire outweighs the scolding you’re going to get from Daddy when he sees the black pit in the middle of his yard.
… that the Chevrolet Chevette is apparently the best car ever made. It can withstand being driven repeatedly with the parking brake on, without oil, with the shifter dropped to second whenever a teenage girl thinks it necessary and can survive several wrecks only to be worth more when you get rid of it than it was when you bought it.
… that to this day, the most terrifying question I have ever heard uttered is, “Got any loose teeth?”
… that Mom’s wake up kids with a sweet sing-songy “Good morning” and Daddy’s do it with a cold glass of water.
… that a little girl should never get married until she finds a man that she’s pretty sure helped her Daddy hang the moon.
… that sitting outside on a Friday night with your family can repair just about any damage that the world has inflicted on you during the week.
… that as much as you secretly swore that when you grew up you would never make your children do chores and eat all their vegetables, you are thankful every time your children complain about the same things because you know someday their kids will still be doing chores and eating their vegetables.
… that if your earthly Father can love you no matter what you have done, there can be no doubt your Heavenly Father will, too.
… that when the entire world sees you as a lost cause, your parents see you as a little girl that has simply lost her way and they wait patiently for God to heal your broken spirit.
… that love is never a fifty-fifty equation and anyone that says otherwise has no idea what the heck they are talking about.
… that people are right when they say, “No man is an island”. Every decision, word or deed always affects someone besides yourself.
… that if my Step-mom wasn’t Cinderella and Daddy wasn’t Prince Charming and yet they still loved each other no matter what happened through the years, maybe real love is more of a decision than a fairy tale.
Wow, that's still good stuff.