Planning My 130th Birthday Party

Submitted into Contest #126 in response to: Write about a character setting an unusual New Year’s resolution.... view prompt

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Coming of Age Creative Nonfiction Inspirational

Have you ever heard someone say, "Shoot me if I ever get that old," or something to that sentiment? I never understood that. Perhaps it's because I've always enjoyed old people so much. For as long as I can remember, my grandparents have been my favorite people and I'm more at ease in the company of someone 40+ years my senior than those my own age.

My peers start complaining about mid-life crises in their 30s and 40s. I recognize the average life expectancy in North America is somewhere around 80, but I've never aspired to being average.

My grandfather and I have agreed to live to 130 years old. Of course, when each of us arrive at 130, the expectation at that point will likely be much higher. He turns 95 in February. I turn 38 in April.

I don't believe most people are actually afraid of getting old. What they're afraid of is getting sick. Feeble. Ugly. Weak. Incontinent. Losing their capacity for joy, learning, activity, and basic understanding.

I worry about those things too. Those things sound awful and I wouldn't wish them on my nemesis, if I had one.

My grandfather and I play games (with my grandmother!), nearly every day. Cards, board games, marbles, whatever he feels like. He reads action adventure books on his iPad and watches Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in old wrestling videos on YouTube. He sagely reminds me frequently that a happy wife leads to a happy life.

As a straight, cis, single woman, I assume it's true and therefore I've come to terms with living out my life's adventures with family, friends, and pets as my furred true loves.

The unfortunate thing about my grandfather is that he and I only started getting to know each other when Covid arrived on the scene. He's only had approximately 2 years to prepare himself to live to 130, which means he had 93 years of living as many people agree is the best way to live:

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi said it, so it must be true, right? I disagree.

He married into my family 17 years ago. The same year I moved away from "home" to go to college. I visited every year, but how well do you really get to know a person when you only see them a few days a year? Not well, that's how well.

But thanks to a global pandemic, I've found my way back to my humble roots, moving into a "temporary" location a mere 5 minute walk from my grandparents. Barring tragic circumstances, we have coffee and socialize every day from 3PM to 5PM, and every so often extend the visit into dinner as well.

The first time I told him I planned to live to 130, he burst into laughter. My grandparents do love to laugh, so this wasn't unusual, but it took me some time to convince him I wasn't joking.

As a man who had just lost his driver's license and a good portion of his eyesight, not to mention ever stiffening knees, he was feeling the effects of his age at the time. More than once he made off-hand comments about expecting to not wake up, any day now.

That was two years ago.

Today, with the help of some technology, a great knee brace, and frequent mindset adjustments from yours truly, he's determined to reach 130 years of age before I do. Figure that one out, right?

To my immense good fortune, I learned the secret of life when I was 27 years old. I'm not going to tell you what it is, of course, because as everyone knows, that would be cheating.

I'm not sure if he's figured it out yet, but I am sure he's close.

The secret is not only what convinced me I will live to 130 but, more importantly, is what made me realize I'm going to love my life on my 130th birthday, more than I've ever loved my life before.

How can I be so sure, you may be wondering?

Well, because I know the secret. When you know, you know. You know?

It's been a full decade since I learned the secret, and it has truly been life changing. I've loved and lost, I've bought and sold property, I've changed careers multiple times, and I've travelled the world. Not the entire world, sadly. I hit 13 countries before being called back to the homeland for safety and promise of free medical care.

The last decade was one of freedom and learning to find my true joy in life.

On the very last day of 2021, I sit here imagining the next decade.

I've set resolutions before, of course. Who hasn't. And like everyone else, I've forgotten or chosen to completely ignore their short-lived existence by approximately January 7th.

I don't remember any of them precisely, but I'm sure they sounded something like:

"I'm going to exercise every day."

"I'm going to quit all junk food, forever."

"I'm going to make sure my home is clean every day."

"I'm going to write every morning, and, oh yeah,"

"I'm going to wake up every day at 5 am to start my day right!"

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I tend to go big or go home. It's all or nothing in my life and when it comes to goals and resolutions like this, it more often than not comes to nothing. Nada. Nope. Not today or any day.

So I'm doing things differently this year. I'm not going to say I won't make resolutions because that sounds like a resolution itself, and I'll just end up breaking it!

But I'm going to resolve something new. Sometime exiting.

Something I don't have to do, but rather desperately, passionately, and confidently want to do.

I'm going to live like a person who expects their 130th birthday to be the greatest, happiest day of her life.

Which brings me back to the beginning. Most people aren't afraid of getting old. They're afraid of getting sick, feeble, ugly, weak, incontinent and of losing their capacity for joy, learning, activity, and basic understanding.

A person on their 130th birthday who is any of those thing is unlikely to be having the best day of their life, unless they're completely senile and have no idea what's happening. I promise, that's not the secret.

While my grandfather only has 35 years and change to make this happen, I am blissfully aware and grateful for the fact I have 92 plus years to make it happen.

It blows my mind how much change has happened in just the past20 years; imagine what's possible in 92 more!

Obviously, it's possible to live that long. That's not even a question in the realm of possibility for me.

The real test is what is my body, brain, and emotional state will be like at 130 years old. I get to choose that today.

Of course, I might get hit by a bus tomorrow, or get cancer of the toenails when I'm 63 years old. Nothing is guaranteed.

But if I wake up tomorrow and ask myself, what would I love to be doing when I'm 130 years old, I can take action to make it happen.

If I dream of being the star dancer in a concert for thousands of people, I can sign up for STEEZY and start to learn the steps.

If I believe I'm going to need to dig my solar powered, bubble-top, self-driving flying vehicle out of the snow in order to get to the organic famer's market/petting zoo, I can practice shoveling my driveway clean from the frozen white fluff tomorrow.

If I imagine walking into a liquor store and getting asked for ID at the ripe young age of 130, I can drink an extra glass or two of water tomorrow (before the nightly glass of wine) and find myself some vegan collagen supplements to keep my skin looking youthful.

If I want to be teaching youngsters how to master a particular skill, I can start teaching myself how to master it immediately.

What I've learned, watching "old people" living their day-to-day lives is that the things they did every day of their life prior to their current age, those are the things they can still do now.

Google "old people being amazing" and you'll come up with thousands of posts validating this belief. There's even a YouTube video of "Amazing & Inspirational 100 Year Old People" that presented me with a 17 minute and 40 second gift of interruption to the writing of this resolution. Dick van Dyke is still dancing at 95. I'm pretty sure Betty White was cussing like a sailor just yesterday. And my grandfather, at 94, is still in his workshop building props and displays for my grandmother's many creative hobbies.

Everyone knows the best parties take some time to plan.

So that's my resolution for 2022. I'm going to start planning my 130th birthday party 92ish years in advance.

January 01, 2022 01:52

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2 comments

Santina Forlenza
18:41 Jan 05, 2022

This sounds like an inspirational story, boosting up motivation! Very nicely written: the story flows easily making the reader feeling relaxed.I also like very much the approach towards aged people.

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Monique Nelson
22:33 Jan 05, 2022

Thank you so much - this comment made my day, it was so nice to read!

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