Tomorrow will be my 50th birthday. It’s kind of a startling statement to me. 50. I keep getting hit with the realization that I’ve been on this planet a pretty long time. Things that seem really recent like the 80s are a really long time ago for some folk. It is a really long time, and I’m not supposed to remember long ago. I’m the youngest in the room. I’m the one that doesn’t get references to The Shadow or Fibber Magee’s closet. Nowadays, I’m often the oldest in the room. I saw Star Trek when it first appeared on television. I remember the lunar landing. I remember so many assassinations; John, Robert, Martin and Malcolm.
When I was 3 I had no right to an education. Disabled women were regularly sterilized in ignorance and for their “own good”. Nobody heard of a curb cut. Later, doctors told me not to count on a long life. My parents, never expected me to go to high school or college. They thought I would stay with them until they died and then perhaps live out the rest of my life in a nursing home. After all, that’s where many people with disabilities ended up, they still do because of the lack of community-based attendant care. Yet I got through high school and even through college. I never managed a full-time job, but I’d like to think that my volunteer work has made the world a little better.
This year has been a rough one for me and for mine. Sickness has left me feeling fragile. I’m closer to the end of my life than the beginning and I’m hating it. I try to concentrate on the good stuff. All the people who love me and take care of me. All and wonderful people who make me a little part of their life as I make them part of mine. I never expected to make 50. I thought I’d made peace with that long ago. I was wrong.
I hope I find someway to cope with what’s coming. I’d like to think that I have a little of that stubbornness I’m so proud of left to deal. I’ve said this many times in the last several months. This has been one of the hardest years of my life, but it is also the year that I realized how well loved I am. Carol, we’ve been together for longer than we’ve been with anyone. Thank you for this life we’ve made. Serene, thank you for this life we’ve made. And to the rest of you, my chosen family, my blood family and to all my friends: Thank you for the life we’ve made.