I don't remember a birthday before the year I turned 10. For my 10th, life was simple, easy. I wanted, and got, roller skates with a key, Mama baked a coconut cake, and Daddy came home carrying a watermelon on his shoulders just for me. For my 13th, full of teenage angst and insecurity, I wished, prayed for clear skin and a boyfriend. My 17th, solitude, escape from a family that felt like white caps crashing against a rocky shore. My 21st, to feel like I fit in with the other girls in the office, even though I didn't. Their evenings were spent at clubs, arguing who would pay for the next round, while I headed home to a toddler with ear infections.

My 30's lump together. Praying for a teenager to take a long break from being sassy, a husband to work less than 6 days a week, and to go more than a day without someone in the house crying.

40's, I wished for my weight to be what it was in my 30's, back when I thought I was overweight and we prayed for enough money to come in to meet the next tuition payment. The gift of Grandparenting came in my 40's. I was still busy raising a man-child, body of a man and the heart of a boy, One foot in each world. My 40's, the nest emptied slowly but surely and I prayed to God to get used to a time that felt like I was wearing someone else's too-tight shoes, getting to know again, and in some ways for the first time, this man I'd said yes to spending the rest of my life with. New soil that felt very foreign.

Then my 50's. a half-century, good grief! How did that happen? Much of the time I still am thirteen, skipping down the street, holding hands with Carolyn and Patricia, singing 'So Happy Together' by the Turtles. I'm her on the inside, so why are my hands beginning to be gnarled and spotted and my underwear and handwriting resemble my mother's more all the time?

At 56, what do I need? Nothing, not a single thing. What do I want? Nothing so simple as roller skates or clear skin, but rather long, strong marriages for our children; grandchildren to grow and flourish and honor God and their parents with their lives; more years for my own parents; to know if I left this earth today it would have been enough time for those I hold dearer than life itself to know how deeply I cherished them; to have made a difference when I could; to have used all my resources - time, energy, money and passion - in a way that honors the Giver of life itself.

I need nothing but I wouldn't turn down some good Italian food and a glass of merlot with the best gift God ever gave me, sitting across the table from me.


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