Thoughts on Sixty
I was born at 3 am on a Wednesday. Perhaps the saying Wednesday’s child is full of woe, fits, because I was born two months early, and I almost didn’t make it.
It’s funny that when I woke up very early this morning, the thing going through my head was my mother. There is that mystical bond between mother and child, which is half physical, and half spiritual. I am a product of her own body. It is something only mothers can know, that I will never really be able to wrap my head around.
There is a strange feeling when you wake up and and realize “This is my birthday”. I was wondering if somewhere out there in the universe, my mother was reliving the same experience with some kind of maternal muscle memory and remembering, because we are the only two people in the world who went through it together.
I passed by my birth town a few years back. It is still marked only by cross roads, some telephone poles, and wheat fields as far as the eye can see. It’s very tiny hamlet and there’s not much reason for anybody to live there.
The tiny prairie hospital, such as it was, lacked amenities and was not well equipped for difficult births. I came into the world, took a breath, and then my lungs collapsed. I turned blue, then black and the doctor said I would be dead before the sunrise. I was put in an incubator like a hatchling chick doing battle with its shell.
But… I didn’t die. I just kept on living. The doctor said I wouldn’t last a week. But I did. The doctor said I would be mentally retarded. (Cue jokes from my brothers at this point). No one can go without breathing for five minutes without some kind of permanent damage.
Well, here I am. Still alive and somehow marked by that miracle sixty years on. It says in the book of Ezekiel, “Yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, live...” and that is what I did. The strange breath of God spared my life and put a mark on me. I knew grace before I knew what grace was.
I have always wondered what sixty feels like. It seems like a big number. It seems like you should be wise, and that things add up to something conclusive. Still, I cannot shake my inner fifteen-year-old - the internal barometer that sets how old you feel. So... the really great news is that I actually feel fifteen.
It’s funny to be thinking of such ephemoral things in the dark, when my Mother has been dead for a decade, but just as there is that mysterious spiritual bond between mother and child, there is also the strange communion of the saints. Those here, and those gone. We are somehow forever joined in that spiritual bond as well.
The funny thing that follows you your whole life, is the imprint of a mother. I have been told by a neighbour, “There are few things in life that will affect you as much as having a good mother, and you had a VERY good one”. That’s high praise, but it fits I think. My mother was the most emotionally courageous person I ever knew. She had hidden reservoirs of strength that made it seem impossible that she should ever die. She was a truly good person and you may not get to know a lot of those throughout a lifetime.
What follows me, is that I still somehow care what my mother thinks of me. I hope that she is proud, or at least, that she is not ashamed. There is little that grieves you like making your own mother regret that she brought you into the world.
I am here, I think, because my Mother’s prayers were bigger than the physical call of death that brushed close by that day. Since I am lying in the dark and dealing with such invisibles, I would like to think that my prayers going out there into the silent darkness, are going to the right place and being heard. I would like to think that I lived for a good purpose to this point.
Sure, I care what God thinks. There is that thing, “Our Father who art in Heaven…” but then there is what your Mother thinks, and I may care even more about that.
Where I as born.... it’s the same view from pretty much anywhere in Saskatchewan.