My husband Bill turned 80 on November 16. It has been several weeks of celebrations, cards, gifts, phone calls and guests. Emily and Jeff came for the official party, a potluck for 18. The house was crowded and lively and the food superb. The actual weekend of the birthday I surprised Bill with a cake at the coffee hour after church. It gave his many admirers there a chance to congratulate him on this milestone. And in the meantime our dining table is covered in cards and the phone has been ringing non-stop.
Bill is in excellent shape for his age-I often jokingly attribute that to his marrying a younger wife who won’t let him rest on his laurels. He exercises, eats well, reads voraciously, teaches a few private ‘cello students and travels. All good things to keep the mind and body in good shape. However, 80 is daunting- no ifs, ands or buts, one is firmly planted in old age by this time.
This has been a hard birthday for me; a sobering one, in fact. I found myself unable to join in the festivities with a light spirit and instead felt more like an observer on the outside looking in. My usual optimism about the future suddenly included a twinge of fear and foreboding. I feel like a corner has been turned and the path is now somewhat different. And my footing is not so sure.
I have been married to Bill for 30 years, over half of my life. It is a good life, one that I hope will continue for _____ years. I don’t know how to fill in the blank anymore.