All the Nancys came ‘round for this birthday

Published 1:30 am Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Just yesterday, I was 10-years-old; I turned around and I was 23.

One deep breath and I hit age 45. I blinked my eyes and this past weekend, I arrived at 65 years, the “Medicare” birthday. Funny thing is those Nancys of birthdays gone by are still here as close as that deep breath I took.

That girl turning 10, walking with her daddy as he tells her she is leaving single-digit birthdays forever, is in there. The young mother at 23, raising three little ones, lives in me. There’s the woman celebrating 45 years of life, happily remarried with a fourth child about to embark on a new path from newspaper person to yoga teacher. Yes, that version of me is around too.

Late Saturday afternoon, these old friends all came to call as I sat quietly watching the sun setting on the eve of turning 65. I’m like my 92-year-old mother in that I don’t give age a lot of thought or attention. However, 65 rattled the cage a little because it was the age I thought was “old” before I realized old is mostly a head game.

I will admit I threw myself a private pity party that included consuming a bit of red wine, which is rare for me so a bit is more than enough to loosen me up. (This is not a practice I intend to take up in my golden years.)

Surprisingly, I found myself feeling a sense of deep sadness that bubbled to the surface. A feeling that is also something rare for me to experience.

“What in the world is wrong with me?” I whisper to the sky that was beginning to darken. “My life is good. I’m happy. I’m healthy. I have love. I have friends. I have comfort.”

Still, there was something tugging at me, something I couldn’t name. So after a few minutes of fighting off the feelings, I simply let them be. I let tears fall. I let my heart be as heavy as it needed to be without any interference from my head telling it to lighten up.

As the stars popped out, I became that 10-year-old who misses being able to take her daddy’s hand hearing him telling her how she is moving to a new year of her life. That young mother who looks back in amazement at how quickly her babies grew up and flew from the nest took over for a while. The 45-year-old stepped up to visit me, whispering in my ear how fast 45 became 65.

After a few more minutes lost in the past, hanging out with all the versions of Nancy from birth to almost 65, I heard the sound of my daughter singing as she moved around inside. Then I felt the cat that always insists on attention wrap itself around my legs. I looked up to see my husband walking slowly across the yard coming toward the house.

I put all my old friends back in their places inside of me, said goodnight to the stars, and the cat, as I made my way back to the present moment. The sadness hung around for while longer, but soon left as I focused on the things that needed my attention.

Sunday, my birthday, dawned and it was a quiet day. I went to lunch with my husband, my daughter and my father-in-law. My mother came for a visit, bringing me a pound cake and an heirloom pillowcase that was in my crib the day I was born. I talked to my other children and read more than 100 Facebook birthday wishes.

Around 5 p.m., I officially hit 65 years of being alive. As I sat sipping a cup of celebratory coffee, all of the Nancys with all of their experiences sang “Happy Birthday” in my head.

I smiled, letting the joy I felt bubble to the surface. And, I thanked them for the gift of getting me to the place I live today.



Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.