Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Unbelievable

Sometimes I have to pinch myself as a reminder that I am still walking this earth. I shouldn't be here because the doctor gave me six months to live when I was ten years old. Boy, did I ever make a fool of him.

I will never forget that day. My mother and I had just returned from one of my many visits to the doctor and I was sitting in the middle of my bed. My mother was on the phone giving a report of the doctor visit to my Aunt. Mom was crying and I wasn't paying a lot of attention until I heard her say that the doctor only gives Darlene six months to live. I started laughing. I knew I wasn't going to die. Now why did I not tremble at the news? I really don't know why it amused me instead of terrifying me. Was I just stupid? Or did I have some inner knowledge that I would live to adulthood?

Nonetheless, that diagnosis must have been buried in my subconscious because I always thought that I would die young. Some years later I remember praying to God that he would let me live until I was forty years old. I believed that I would have done everything I wanted to by that age. Now, that was stupid.

My dreams were not grand; I had no aspirations to write the great American novel, compose a beautiful symphony, or to discover a cure for cancer. All I wanted to do was get married, have children and travel. I naively believed that if allowed to do those things I would have lived a full life.

Perhaps it wasn't so naive after all, because that sums up my life. Would my life have been different if my goals were loftier? Probably not. If I had really wanted to accomplish something worthwhile with my allotted time on earth, I would have tried to do so. I have no regrets that my conventional ambition to led to an ordinary life. It has been, as they say, a great ride.

We all have our share of the highs and lows of a life lived. There were disappointments and heartaches along the way, but they were balanced by many happy events. What can be more fulfilling than holding your newborn in your arms for the first time? What greater joy than to hold their newborns and smell the sweet scent of a baby and know you are now a grandmother? The pride felt then could never be topped by seeing your book in print or hearing your composition played.

Why am I waxing philosophical today? It's because it's my birthday and a time for reflection. If that doctor who gave me up for dead was alive now I would love to appear and taunt him for scaring my Mom so badly. Wouldn't it be fun to see his face?

25 comments:

Pete said...

Happy Birthday, Darlene! Here's to many more! I'm about a generation behind you (I turn 63 next month), and I already find that I've done a lot of things I didn't know about when I was young -- and haven't bothered at all with most of the things I once claimed were my top priorities.

My predictions for my life were no more accurate than that long-ago doctor's prediction for your life!

Having had that thought, I think I'm now officially out of the prediction business.

And while I'm here I want to thank you again for your prayers, support and comments during Marge's long march through chemotherapy. I swear, that CaringBridge journal is going to become a book.

Tabor said...

You blog is very youthful in its writing. You are forever young it appears. Happiest of birthdays!

Thomas said...

Hi there Darlene from Wrentham, Massachusetts, hope you had the happiest of birthdays ever. Enjoyed your blogs. Ronni sent me over. Keep up the good work and may God bless and keep you safe and healthy.
Best regards,
Thomas Downey

kenju said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DARLENE!!! Such a nice, reflective post today. I hope you will be around a long time.

Anonymous said...

It's not how old you are, it's how you are old...and you are a wonderful model for growing old.

Happy Birthday, Darlene! Looking forward to sharing your NEW YEAR!

Celia said...

A most happy birthday Darlene, and many more. Our Grandma Esther is also 84 and I bet you two would be great friends. She's resilient like you and greets everyone as a friend too. Love your blog picture and cheers, live long and prosper, in all ways.

Darlene said...

*Pete - I am so happy that Marge is in remission. I hope she stays that way to live to be 84 and beyond.

*Tabor - I think my writing is the only youthful thing about me. Maybe it's a second childhood. ;-)

*Thomas - It's so nice to see a new name in my comments. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you will return. I lived In Spencer, Mass for several years so am very familiar with your state.

*Kenju - Thank you so much. I would like to see my granddaughters graduate so am trying to stick around.

*Anonymous - I don't know who you are, but I do thank you for the kind words.

*Celia - Have your grandmother Esther write me and I will respond. We can be Internet friends and share memories of the Big Band era.

millie garfield said...

Wishing you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Always enjoy reading your posts but the one you put up today was especially thoughtful

For someone that's 84 you sure are "Young."

Eat, DRINK and be merry!!

Elaine of Kalilily said...

A very Happy Birthday, Darlene!

Kay Dennison said...

Happy Birthday. Darlene!!!!!!!!

janinsanfran said...

What a pleasure to come by say "Happy Birthday"! Many happy returns indeed!

And your post doesn't sound naive, but ever so real! I feel blessed to have you as a friend and commenter.

Rain said...

Happy Birthday, Darlene. I very much enjoyed meeting you for the fun of it but also the encouragement of a positive example of what aging can be like. Hope your year ahead is a great one.

Betty said...

Happy Birthday, Darlene, and many more. Keep on writing these great posts.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Darlene.
I don't usually comment but I enjoy reading your blog. You always have something interesting to say.
Many more happy years.
Genie

cile said...

Happy Birthday, Darlene! I enjoyed reading your post(people kept interrupting me, though!) I don't think there is such a thing as an ordinary life - certainly not yours! After reading your post, I'm of the opinion that it may be that a life becomes extraordinary in it's aging. Thank you for your post. All the best and many happy returns of the day!

Mortart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortart said...

Happly birthday, Darlene! And what a beautiful summary of your genuine lifetime accomplishments!

Looking to the Stars said...

Happy Birthday kiddo :)
have a great day!

Colleen said...

84! Wow, a very happy birthday to you!!
Sent over by Ronni, I will be back to read more. You're fascinating.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Happy Birthday to a lady who makes me laugh, makes me think, makes me smile, and has even made me cry....all by her wonderful, heartfelt, down-to-earth, and inspiring writing. I have loved every minute of your presence in the blogosphere Darlene...and I'm so proud to call you my friend. Happy, Happy Birthday sweetie...Love, Joy

BTW...am I the only one who gets your post all in code again? Not a single wonderful word. Geesh, I missed another good one Darlene. POOP!!

Maggie said...

Happy Birthday Darlene!!!!!!!!!

Ugich Konitari said...

Darlene,

Happy Birthday, and all of us have a lot to learn from you about how to face life and predictions with a good dose of wonderful common sense, and fun. I so enjoy your posts, particularly when you tell off the politicians. I hope I end up having at least half your enthusiasm when I reach your age....

Greetings, again from Mumbai.

Xtreme English said...

happy birthday again--i think i wished u a happy b'day on facebook t'other day, but who knows? facebook is hard for me to figger out.

so....wot was so wrong with u at age 10 that the doc felt you wouldn't survive? did u used to catch hold of the back bumper of the bus while roller skating? we did that in my hometown. the bus ran once an hour and travelled at -5 mph, but the warnings we got were very similar to wot the doctor said about your chances of survival at age 10...

SO glad you made it! how's the CI working?

Claude said...

Happy birthday, Darlene and many happy returns! I too was given for weak and dangerously ill when I was six, and although I had cancer at 60 and am "only" 64, I do intend to hang in there and follow into my elders' steps. You are a wonderful example!

joared said...

A belated Happy Birthday wish to you, Darlene!

I think all so-called ordinary lives are quite the contrary. I'm sure your life is quite unique and special in many ways, but because you lived it, likely it just seems unspectacular. Don't fall into the comparison trap with others.