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Attitude and Gratitude Are My Focus

A Personal Perspective: I am grateful for birthdays because I get to have one.

I took another trip around the sun last week. I am always grateful for birthdays simply because I get to have one. Not everyone does, of course, as evidenced by the daily obituaries.

Readers familiar with my writing know that I have lost my dear sister-in-law recently, and Monday would have been her birthday. She knew before we wanted to admit that she wouldn’t make it to this day, but she never lamented. She reflected on all her birthdays she had attained and focused on the fact that she ‘got’ two years after her diagnosis. Attitude and gratitude are everything…even while slowly fading away.

More and more, with every passing year, my outlook is one of gentle acceptance. When I am out of focus, I jolt myself back to my attitude and gratitude.

What have I cherished since my last birthday? So much.

I joyfully earned another year with my husband of almost 46 years. We complete each other’s sentences not because we have the same thoughts but because what I forget, he remembers, and vice versa. There is comfort in knowing we forget together, just at different times. There is reassurance in consistency when the world around us feels so out of control. He’s my go-to person, whom I ‘go to’ throughout the day. He let me grow up and never limited my quirkiness even when he surely wanted to.

Source: bjaffe/blogger
The author and her husband, Paul
Source: bjaffe/blogger

I got another 12 months with my sons and their incredible women. Each unique and special reminds me that, indeed, I did something magical here on earth.

In the short time that we humans live in this vast galaxy, I was able to raise three sons who have three different lives and interests: family, travel, teaching, art, business, music, reading, writing, exercise, and delicious foods.

I could again witness their three distinct personalities, all with loving hearts. I earned one of the greatest comments from my daughters-in-law. They said, “I love you.” They always mean what they say. I am exceptionally grateful that they also say what they mean.

I gained another year to be with Ezzie, Rose, and Cole. They are the ultimate gifts of aging. Why wouldn’t I want to be called Nana by these very important little souls? Their unconditional love for me and their joy upon seeing me are my rewards for motherhood.

I understand that not everyone becomes a grandparent, so I am grateful beyond words for this experience. My plaque in my office says it all: “I thought I had it all. Then I became a Nana.” Having another birthday allowed me to learn the incredible news that I get to be a Nana again in July.

Nana and Cole
Source: bjaffe/blogger
Nana with Ezzie and Rose
Source: bjaffe/blogger

I spent special days with some of my dearest friends, who continue to add so much to my life. I can speak candidly with them all, and each holds a heartstring directly connected to my soul.

A cup of coffee can last two hours with my dear friend who understands me without my words. Another never fails to tell me how grateful she is for our friendship, which is something I agree with 100 percent.

I have been friends with one woman for 68 years—our entire lives—when we had just come home from the hospital two weeks apart.

Another dear woman and I became new mothers together, and now we are seasoned grandmothers sharing countless ups and downs throughout the decades. My college roommate knew me when I was just beginning to find myself as a freshman co-ed, away from home for the first time. She welcomed me into her family, and I have never left, thank goodness, and of course, thanks to her.

A dear woman and I met when our youngest sons were in diapers. We went through carpools and playdates. Today, we walk together almost every day, and our shared history allows us the comfort of silence. An incredible friend showed me how to teach when I was 22, and we have been professors and best friends since.

One of my newest yet decades-old friends and I met through our husbands; we have forged a special friendship over the years. I love my cousin as a dear friend, separate from our history and family ties.

Another year under my belt allowed me to read more books: political, historical fiction, spiritual, and Holocaust-themed (my passion). I ‘shop’ in my bookcase as well as online. I have realized that I might not read all my books in this lifetime, yet this lofty goal feeds my soul.

I have spent more time writing, with eight articles this year. I write for myself, yet the comments from readers always bring me added joy. My writing teacher and guide invigorated me through her unique joyfulness. I am tired when class starts until I see her face on zoom. She knows me, and I am grateful to know her.

Another birthday enveloped by the pandemic, yet we have stayed healthy. Those in my family who got COVID were not deathly ill, nor did they require hospitalization. They all recovered.

Molly snuggled with me countless times throughout this past year…more so because we were home most days, all day, due to the pandemic. All she knew was that I was available for lap naps and three to four walks a day. For her and me, it’s been a glorious time.

Sweet Molly
Source: bjaffe/blogger

I have never been unhappy with getting older, even though my birthdays feel as if they arrive at a fast and furious pace.

My 93-year-old aunt relishes reading a good book on her balcony, where she sips her coffee as she admires her succulents and the foliage surrounding her.

She reminds me that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. She is never lonely. “How could I be,” she asks? “I have a good book.” Attitude, once again. I am grateful for such guidance in my life.

The author's incredible aunt
Source: bjaffe/blogger

Here’s to another birthday in 2023, but until then, right now is where I want to be.

More from Barbara A Jaffe Ed.D.
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