Some Thoughts on Turning 44


I turned 44 today.

Outside, the open areas are covered with snow, and because it’s a Sunday, and because there’s a pandemic, the streets are quiet and empty. Light spills in through the window, gray skies glaring off of white, rowhouse roofs and the stark, distant lines of leafless trees.

I’m feeling hopeful today, with the new year ahead. I don’t have much writing work lined up for January and February, but that’s not abnormal. Maile and I have been doing this freelance thing for many years now, and it takes a lot more than it used to for the anxiety alarm bells to start ringing. I’m thinking only of today, of how it feels to be getting older, of all these years that have come and gone, and of the many (or few) remaining for me.

For my birthday breakfast, I chose Apple Jacks. Of course I did. And Leo and Poppy have been working on little drawings that they’ll give me later today. Having children is a strange thing—I look at them, and they are at that precise age when my own memories begin, memories of a mobile home in Laredo, Texas, and of moving home to cousins and aunts and uncles, to Lancaster where my family has lived for thirteen generations. I remember being five or six and falling in love with cornfields and cemeteries and empty, weekday churches. Piles of autumn leaves burning, and long winter afternoons spent sledding until our fingers and toes were numb.

Having children will do this to you, watching them grow up right there in front of you will send your mind into a spiral of memory, of old days come back again, being relived.

44 years old. When my oldest son is 44, I will be 70. And I will think back on my mid-forties as a time of joy and hardship, as a busy time when we were constantly trying to catch our breath, of a beautiful time with small children experiencing their big delights.

I hope to live to 70, or 80, or 90. But even if I don’t, 44 is a beautiful thing.

3 Replies to “Some Thoughts on Turning 44”

  1. I will turn 70 next year (way way next year in Dec.). My oldest daughter turns 40 in May. I remember being 40 and thinking what it would be like to be 70 (!) when she was just 40. I was an “older” mother. My youngest daughter is 34 and is just getting married in January (yes, outside, just immediate family, but finally, yay!). Now I think, will I live to see their children graduate from college (if they are able to have some). Ack…. too much to think about. But I enjoyed your reflections, and your writing and Maile’s journey: much success in the years ahead for you both, you deserve it.

    1. Time is a strange thing, isn’t it, Melodie? It just keeps circling back around on us. Thanks for your well-wishes–the same to you and your family! Merry Christmas!

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