Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thoughts on being 61

61 is a very big number.

When you are young, you never think you are going to get THAT old. I remember all of us in high school, all very young and very cool. We pictured ourselves so world weary. Hadn't worked a day in our lives, hadn't seen how the world really worked, but we knew all, knew everything, and felt above it. Were we all in for a shock.

Life is hard.

Loving is hard

Living is hard.

It takes work to make a life. They never told us that. Never even really hinted at it. Or, more probably, they yelled it to us bust we couldn't hear those messages. One of our gang kept saying she wanted to die before 40 - you can say those things when you still consider yourself immortal - and we all nodded in complete agreement.

I was luckier that most as Joe and I met in high school. 16 year old boys who would live a life together. I have a companion/friend/lover for all of my adult life. That didn't take away from the reality that:

Life takes work.

Loving takes work.

Living takes work.

Somewhere back in time, I had two catastrophic illnesses. Both were serious threats to my life. Suddenly the 'poetic' idea of kicking the bucket at 40 seemed, um, undesirable because even though the journey through our lifespan meant making a living, earning the respect of others, doing drudgery - working every day, doing vacuuming, paying bills - the payoff for doing those things was pretty high:

Life is worth it.

Love is worth it.

Living is worth it.

The second of the two illnesses took walking with one hand and gave me a wheelchair with another hand. In many ways, that no one could possibly understand but others who've had the same swap, a fair trade. People spoke as if my life was over, as if my life wouldn't be worth living, that I was now less loveable. They were wrong. Really wrong. I think you have to live a bit to get it. You have to have worked until there are blisters on your soul, you've had to do drudgery until you just can't wash another dish, you have to love through and past the conflicts that come when there are two and only one is right. You do. Then you learn bit by bit ... but for me, at 61 a fat, old, gay, disabled man:

Life is hard and because it takes work, it's worth it.

Love is hard and because it takes work, it's worth it.

Living is hard and because it takes work, it's worth it.


Kris S. said...

So well said, Dave. I hope that, on your birthday, you're Queen For A Day.

Cindy said...

You are right - Life is work and it is wonderful. Have a wonderful birthday.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!!!!

Susan said...

I know exactly what you're feeling. Well said!

And, HaPpY BiRtHdAy!!!

Shan said...

Happy Birthday Uncle Dave! Have a great time today. XO

wendy said...

Happy Birthday, Dave. Here's to another year of living and loving and striving.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday.

AkMom said...

Happy Birthday, Dave.

May it be full of love, life, and happiness.........And sunshine on this Winter Solstice!

Anonymous said...

When disability comes later in life, people on the outside don't realize that you are already the person you are: it mutes you to become disabled, but it also makes you wiser (if you're lucky and work at it), but the basic 'you' doesn't change.

If they only see you in a wheelchair now, they miss so much of who you are and have always been. Their great loss.


Jeannette said...

On the darkest day of the year, Dave, you have a birthday. And the light begins to return.
You bring light into many lives.
Thank you, and Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

Oh, what Jeanette said. So beautiful. So true!

Happy, happy Birthday to you, Dave!


Moose said...

When I was 26 I was told I'd be dead before I was 30.

When I was 33 I was told I'd be dead before 40.

I'll be 50 next year. After various illnesses and becoming disabled, I'm starting to believe that I cannot be killed. I am sure that when I'm 61, I'll still be shaking my cane at people and telling them to get offa my lawn.

Have a very happy birthday. And stay offa my lawn! :-P

Unknown said...

its true the very things that re work it take more work. if it coms to easily then sometimes its just not valued enough. having said that some times it is too much for some people when they have no one to support them and love them back. love makes the world that better place.
a very happy birthday to a man well loved. Today no drudgery, just spoil are worth it.

Unknown said...

im not sure whether my previous comment loaded as my son has been fiddling with my lap top.
so love is the answer, we can cope with a great deal that life throws at us with a loyal person to love and be loved and a love for ourselves.
have a brilliant day you very loved man with no drudgery.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave Thank you for these words.
They’ve been recalling something for me and I got the link today..
these words..
In many ways, that no one could possibly understand but others who've had the same swap, a fair trade.
which I am looking at having not been through the same swap but experiencing other swaps with disabilities,
remind me of Cat Stevens singing Moonshadow.
i love this song and it moved me but I couldn’t say why it what is was about for me. i read your blog and now I see it.
Cat Stevens sings:
Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light.
Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night?

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Dave!

(I am sorry I am late)