By Rosie Preston
I’m a senior citizen with white hair who is often seen in public wearing baggy pants with shirts that do not match. I sometimes have been known to wrap my hair in a scarf (if I can find one) to hide it. This usually happens when I run a quick errand.
My recent birthday was not what I would have planned, but it was very special because no matter what may be going on around me with family or friends, I finally learned to be happy.
The birthdays I remember the most are the ones where I had great expectations to be turning a certain age. For instance, I could never forget the birthday when I started the first grade. My neighbor was in the third grade, and I asked her to save all her schoolwork for me so that I could trace the pages and maybe learn to write!
I can’t ever forget my 12th birthday when I changed schools from Mitchell to Disque Junior High. I realize most people do not remember when we started calling junior high middle’ school. Moving schools was a very traumatic event, because I had to start riding a huge green city bus to school and back every day. I lived on a busy street, and it always scared me to cross that street in front of traffic to get on the school bus.
The birthday that turned out to surprise me the most was when I turned 16 when my dad bought me a 1964 Ford Comet Convertible! I did not have to ride the bus any longer, but the deal was that I had to transport my younger sisters to different schools.
I’ve always been an early bird and woke up like an alarm had gone off even though I never used one. One of my sisters was always standing on the sofa looking into the mirror while putting on her make-up, and I just knew she was going to make us late. She didn’t seem to understand that we had to go “like, five minutes ago!”
Turning 18 was a life-changing event. I had graduated from Gadsden High School and was attending the local junior college before finding a full-time job at Sears, where I did pretty well. I had my own teletype office and was responsible for keying in the catalog and parts numbers.
Marriage was on my mind when I turned 21. We had been childhood sweethearts since I was 13 and he was 15. We have two beautiful children together – first a baby girl who was the apple of her daddy’s eye and then a wonderful son two years later. They are as different as night and day, but in a good way, and they have blessed me with seven great-grandchildren.
Being my current age has its ups and downs, especially when my knees do not want me to get out of a chair like when I was younger. So, the truth about this year’s birthday is that I look in the mirror every morning and ask myself, “What happened?”
Not too long ago, I would not have thought that there would be any interest about my birthdays. I never prepared for this age coming so quickly. But my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have brought me enough joy to have made up for any times I may have been “looking for it all.” I can truthfully say that I’ve found that “special place” by having them in my life!
Case in point. Earlier this week after all the rain, I was holding my great-granddaughter Ella’s hand when my right foot started sinking in the mud. I told her, “Don’t let me go and hold on so I won’t fall!”
The first announcement Ella made when we were in the house was, “I kept Nana from falling down. She was sinking in the mud!”
Somehow this little 5-year old helped me to keep my balance, and I came out of the situation with only mud on one shoe. That was only one way in which these children have balanced my life. When one of the great-grandchildren spends the night and says, “You are the best Nana; let’s cuddle,” my heart skips a beat!
Keep smiling, Rosie
Contact Rosie Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.