Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Time to Count the Cholesterol: On Turning 59

Alas! it is not till time, with reckless hand, 
has torn out half the leaves from the Book of Human Life, 
to light the fires of passion with, from day to day, 
that [wo]man begins to see 
that the leaves which remain are few in number.  – Longfellow, Hyperion, Bk. iv, ch. 8.

Today is my birthday.  I am 59.  Sigh.  I have no idea at all what that should mean.  Perhaps it means that it’s time to start counting my cholesterol.  Maybe I should have begun that exercise years ago.  Maybe not.

But really, what gets accomplished by 59 year olds?

Well, according to the Museum of Conceptual Art , at age 59:

Einstein achieved a major new result in the general theory of relativity.

English novelist and journalist Daniel Defoe wrote his first and most famous novel, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

"Satchel" Paige became the oldest Major League baseball player.

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.

Cellist Nancy Donaruma retired from the New York Philharmonic to become a full-time paramedic.

After nine years of sacrificing in the United States, Ana Torres hired a shrimp boat and rode on it to get her sons out of Cuba during the Mariel boat lift

I am no Einstein, Defoe, Paige, Barton, Donaruma or Torres.

So what have I done with this gift of years?

I’ve spent 24 years in school . . . 35 going on 36 being a mom . . . 22 being a lawyer . . . 8 a preacher . . . owned my own business and worked for others . . . lived in a foreign country (Scotland – okay, so not all that foreign) . . . owned my own home . . . been blessed to be able to spend most of my work life doing things that mattered . . . hiked in the Rocky Mountains and on the Appalachian Trail . . . 

I’ve traveled to and through 33+ of these United States and 16 countries . . . 

I’ve lived through a Cold War and its end and the potential of its resumption . . . the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, Martin Luther King, Jr., and countless others around the world . . . I’ve seen Neil Armstrong walk on the moon while in the safety of my living room . . . along with the Gulf War . . . the Iran-Iraq war . . . the U.S. invasion of Iraq . . . the wars in Afghanistan (Russian and U.S.-led) . . . Syria’s civil war . . . Viet Nam . . . Israel/Palestine again and again and yet again . . . 

Yet being a witness to history is not being a participant in it.

So what would be my accomplishments, given that I’ve yet to undertake the cholesterol-checking regimen?  

Maybe these things:

1. Standing up for others when they could not stand up for themselves.

2. Being a mom to some pretty fine kids.

3. Being a daughter to some pretty fine parents.

4. Cooking some pretty good meals.

5. Walking alongside some pretty amazing people.

6. Being an appreciative audience to some pretty fine performances.

7. Being a pretty good friend – sometimes.

8. Sharing lots of stories.

Of all that I have done, I have not kissed or been kissed nearly enough, danced enough, laughed enough or protested enough.

Perhaps there will be time and occasion for more.  It seems greedy to ask, but I hope so.


  1. Oh, Beth, such a legacy so far! You have "miles to go" before you sleep, and I suspect, many more wonderful accomplishments.

  2. I do believe that you could add 2 to 2 1/2 years to school: pre-school and kindergarten and 9 months in Scotland - You learned a whole bunch of new things during those years.

    1. Thought of that too - they're already in the count.

  3. How great. HAPPY BIRTHDAY

  4. My young friend....I so much older than will be forever young to me....Happiest of days...