Make a Wish

James Birthday
I called my friend James today.  He answered and for some reason I fell into a hushed tone.

“Are my calculations correct? Are you turning 60 this weekend?”

My voice cracked when I said the word 60, as though the word itself was too fragile to mention. How could he be turning 60? It seems moments ago we were dancing in some club.

He replied, “Mae, you don’t have to whisper. It’s not a secret.  I’m good with it.”

“I know, I know. It’s just that some truths need to be whispered.”

He laughed.  I was the one having problems with it.  If he is turning 60, then I am less than a decade away from turning it too.  I don’t want the alternative but I don’t like the inevitable either.

We’ve been friends for nearly 32 years… maybe even longer.  There comes a moment when you just stop counting.  Your pasts tangled like wild underbrush right down to the roots.  I sleep in the bed his family was conceived in back in the 1800’s.  The mattress is new.

The funny thing is, I never saw him age or even mentally registered his hair went grey.  Just recently, I found old photos from 20 years ago and was shocked to see the mass of brown hair on his head.  He was holding Madeleine at her baptism with a wide smile and a face without wrinkles.  We are so close that I missed the marked details years leave as they pass by.  I only see the man who jumped off the side of a hill with me in a plastic bag on a late February afternoon.  Everything has changed and yet is all has stayed the same.  We still sled now and then but not with wild abandon.  Besides wrinkles, age brings caution.

I freely admit I am not what I once was either.  Blurring eyesight is sparring me those visually pesky details and I’m just so relieved to be here too.

We’re meeting next week to toast his new decade, sing to his future and of course – light a candle to make a wish!

* I went to his party last night and one of the cards read – Now you’re too old to die young.

This entry was posted in Essay, Friendship, Memories, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Make a Wish

  1. elroyjones says:

    It just sneaks up on us Mae. I don’t notice that people have aged just as I think all my friends are gorgeous. It’s all the same, your heart doesn’t age. As usual, lovely post.

  2. Gary Holmes says:

    For what it’s worth, my own blessed wife has instructed me to play down my birthday because she doesn’t want people to know she’s married to a 60-year-old guy. Of course I remember when my father turned 60 and he seemed kind of old, although he was probably more vigorous then than I am now. But now 60 doesn’t seem old at all.

    • maesprose says:

      Well, she doesn’t have to say your both the same age. Meg needs to learn how to frequently drop the phrase, “Gary robbed the cradle when he married me.” I agree, 60 doesn’t seem that old now that I see it on the horizon. I will also add that my Dad looks younger and younger in some of the photos we have of him from years ago. Now I realize I’m closer to the age he was then. Everything is relative.

  3. Coleen says:

    Oh crap…that must mean we have more than one friend turning 60 this year….now that I think about it one of my sisters-in-law will be as well….feeling a bit surrounded!

  4. When I turned 60, I had trouble saying it too, but as you mentioned, the alternative isn’t good either. I’ve gotten used to saying it now and I’ve been concentrating on retiring in 2 1/2 years.

  5. maesprose says:

    Donna – good for you! You’re lucky – I think I won’t be able to retire until 67. Those last few years are going to be a long haul!

  6. K C Eames says:

    I celebrate my wife’s 22nd birthday every year. (She has a box full of cards she has kept over the years that can attest to that.)
    As I close in on 60 it is easy for me to remember that my wife will turn 22 again this year.
    This only becomes a problem when I am asked to provide her DOB. I never was good at math.

  7. ahh Mae,

    what a delightful and charming post. you and James are so fortunate to have such a long-lived friendship.. about the time I was just hatching past being a woman of a certain age, I realized I could say I had marvelous, enduring friendships of 45 or 50 years, and it simply thrilled me and made the time I felt aging as just a detail. however, I would like to pass along a very good piece of advice I wish someone, preferably a kind woman friend, would have given me – NEVER, EVER INDULGE IN LOOKING INTO A HIGH-MAGNIFICATION MIRROR. even though I could not see properly to apply even the minimal amount of make-up (this happen when your eyesight goes kaflooey OVERNIGHT) I would rather have been spared the ghastly details of what seemed to be emerging almost on a daily basis. just sayin’…

    much love and light,

    Karen xoxo

  8. maesprose says:

    Karen, thank you for the advice. It has been noted!

  9. John says:

    I’m thankful for my aging eyes … I never look into the mirror with my glasses on, so I still can pretend I look 20-something, instead of 48. 🙂

    It is funny how the people you see most don’t seem to age obviously. I feel that way about my mom. But, in the past few years, she’s taken some short trips alone, and when she comes back, when I haven’t seen her for a few days, the signs of age are more obvious. But, then again, my mom was 42 when I was born, and had solid silver/gray hair by the time she was 50. In the 1970s, people in their 50s seemed to look older than people in their 50s do now. (Or, maybe it’s that I’m just so close to 50 now, and was so far away from 50 back then!) 🙂

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