By Mary McLaurine
I just celebrated my 62nd birthday with my two kids. We had a grand time and I soaked up their compliments on how great I look for my age. They say the fact that my scalp hasn’t sprung a sprout of gray is testament to my staunch belief that age is merely a chronological number.
As I lean in to blow out the nine candles donning my decadent Chocolate Mousse Cake, one for each decade, two for each year in it, and one for good luck, I’m momentarily transported back to birthdays past and wonder if these boys will ever know the wild and carefree girl still residing inside me. Looking at them through the same sapphire-blue eyes I used to bewitch bashful boys, I’m filled with gratitude for their love, happy this girl grew up to be their mother.
I’m a fire sign, a Leo, a lioness: fierce, wild, nocturnal and willing to fight to the death to protect them. This they know of their mother. But what about before I was their mother? Do they ever wonder who I used to be?
I’ve often heard my mother referred to as wild and brazen, her behavior scandalous: Hanging around with a much older crowd, unsupervised and late into the night. She’d often reminisce, regaling me with stories of her turbulent teen years and after a short time, between eye rolls, I’d tune her out and chalk it up to silly banter. How I wish I had listened.
Now that she’s gone, I’d give anything to go back and glimpse into her past, witness her dalliances first-hand: Tooling around with fast boys in fast cars, sipping moonshine with her bad-boy sweetheart, giggling and swapping secrets with her gal pals, and sneaking cigarettes and whiskey after school.
When I’m gone, will my kids pull out my old scrapbooks full of yellowed, tattered Polaroids, sit down and acquaint themselves with the young, impetuous beauty they only knew as mom? We tend as children to disregard our parents’ time on Earth before they were mom and dad, at least until we have a little life under out belts and realize they were young once, free from the inevitable responsibilities careers, child-rearing and growing older entail.
Oh that they could feel the wind whipping through my hair galloping my horse across fields of wildflowers or hanging my head out the window of my boyfriend’s Roadrunner, drag-racing on the strip. Will they flinch tasting the salt dripping from the sweaty tendrils stuck to my forehead while chasing fireflies in summer or cower from the pelting rain, shifting their feet as they feel the mud oozing between my toes dancing to the musicians they now revere as legends?
Can they fathom their mom a true beauty, breaking hearts of her own or imagine her dancing on a bar, drunk and laughing at the world? Will their pulse race and their eyes sting as they feel my young heart falling to pieces as I navigate yet another failed romance?
I always imagined old people felt their age, felt old. Now I know better. We feel our physical limitations brought on by aging but our minds remain youthful, full of vivid memories we continue to cherish.
Back at the house, my boys and I exchange goodbyes and I thank them for the lovely birthday celebration. After pouring a glass of wine, I reach for a Credence album, and putting needle to vinyl, notice my indigo-blue-nail-polished-toes peeking out rebelliously from under my bell bottom jeans. My flowered tunic-top hangs to mid-thigh and its V-neck accentuates my moonstone necklace.
My body sways to the backwoods, bayou crooning spinning in the background like the soundtrack of my life. I laugh as I realize my outfit could have come straight from my 1960’s closet. This cheers me. I dance toward the full-length mirror contemplating my reflection and something catches my eye. It’s her, the young girl of my yesteryear whose life force still pulses through my veins.
I raise my glass and toast her. She shoots me the peace sign and tightens her purple-paisley headband as she sashays away. Turning for one last look of appreciation and acknowledgment, she playfully flips her long, blonde locks and winks, as if saying “C’mon, let’s go!” And with a devilish grin, she disappears.
Now, through my 62-year-old eyes, I see more clearly than ever that we are never apart from who we once were. Our bodies sag in places, our clothes fit more snugly, and the lines around our eyes deepen with wisdom but we remain forever stardust, forever golden, forever young.
Mary blogs at The Heart of Sassy Lassie about living in the light and shadows of darkness while finding gratitude in it all. She has been published on Washington Post, Huffington Post, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Manifest-Station, Elephant Journal and several other sites. She has strong ancestral ties to Scotland and knows although she’s never been, she has lived there all her life.
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