For me and mine, July seems to be the busiest month of the year, almost outweighing the November to January span of time. Natch, there’s the Fourth’s festivities, and on its heels is Baba’s birthday, followed by other anniversaries and birthdays galore, capping the month off with a info-ed-cation (information/education/vacation) in hot hot hot AZ.
The highlight, however, is Baba’s birthday party. This year it was in hot hot hot Hotlanta, GA, so that friends and fam could easily land at Hartsfield International Airport and catch a cab to the hotel where we all lived, ate, and visited for several days. For those fam members living on the various US coasts, it was an easy commute compared to landing and then driving 2 hours to her place.
Baba was turning 98. (That means she’s lived 98 years, I keep telling myself.) Baba, who just stopped driving about three years ago. Baba, who reupholstered a sofa and made lined drapes at the age of 92. There’s a whole lot to say about her. The best being that she’s a bright, sociable friend, a great listener, and a kind and patient mother and grandmother. (She’s had lots of opportunity to demonstrate that, having had nine children, 21 grandkids, and an every increasing number of great-grandkids.)
She’s also a tenacious card player. With the ride from one of her younger friends, she goes to the senior center at least three times a week for canasta and other games I don’t understand. She’s as independent about living her life as anyone can be.
Her card playing inspired her family to have a special cane made for her. It was beautifully hand carved with hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades grooved in, as well as a exquisitely detailed Queen of Hearts etched into the handle. She’s proudly taken it to her card games ever since.
We know she may not use it for long. We know she may be gone by next year. She’s so strong that she could live another 3 or 4 years, but then, we never know when any of us will go. Yet that would not concern anyone who’s made arrangements for their future, and I’m not talking about “final arrangements”, but rather Beyond Planning.
Having known several people who lived past 100, I’ve learned that it’s not such an exciting experience. So many are limited by sight, hearing, and mobility issues. I guess that’s why Baba has always taken great care of herself, challenging her brain as well as her physical strength and wellness. She’s been doing prevention and maintenance for years, and it shows.
Her birthday this year may be her last, but she experienced a joyful reunion with her grandkids and kids, as well as literally walked away with an emblem of her independence.
The more I reflect on this season, the phrase “Christmas in July” pops up. There were quite a few similarities and some striking differences as well. This gives me an idea for a December note. Until then, celebrate today, celebrate the opportunity you have to do some “beyond planning” , and like Baba, play the hand you’re dealt while you can.