My mother looked at my daughter like she had two heads. Her only granddaughter had just asked her, “How old are you, Grandma?”  My mother looked at me with ‘the look’ that begged, “Haven’t you taught my granddaughter proper manners?”

My mom, being the smart lady that she was, grabbed the question and turned it around asking her granddaughter, “Does age really matter?”  My daughter’s response caught us both off guard. “Well,” She said, “Old people do die, you know.” Mom quickly assured her that she wasn’t quite that old yet and that she planned to be around to witness many of her accomplishments. Fortunately, she was around to do just that with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I strongly believe birthdays are to be celebrated with parties and all that comes with them, including cake, ice cream, cards and gifts– and with great gusto. Life is to be celebrated all year long, each and every day a person lives, but especially on the date of their birth. Party ‘till the cows come home, is my motto for birthdays. Some people say they don’t relish all the trappings of a birthday party. Not me! I’m already planning to celebrate all day and into the night when my eightieth birthday rolls around.

I’ll celebrate with a decadent chocolate cake and Rocky Road ice cream and l might even share this goodness with friends and family.  I also want good wishes and gifts to remind me that growing old is great. After all, I’ll never be eighty again. It’s been said that wishing someone a happy birthday is akin to giving them the gift of happiness. I want happiness to be in abundance on my birthday.  I also want wine—a variety of wonderful wines poured into the clinking glasses when the well-wishers shout, “Viva La Betty”….enjoy life and be merry. Picasso once said, “It takes a long time to become young.” I’ll drink to that! Eighty years is probably a good time to say I’m young….again.

But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. My eightieth birthday won’t be here for another year. I know! It’s a bit early to begin the celebration, but better now than waiting another sixteen months. Think about the significance of that.  In sixteen months I’ll be celebrating my sixteenth birthday for the fifth time. Calculate it for yourself. Sixteen times five equals eighty. Got it?

Does age really matter?  It mattered to my daughter when she was afraid her grandma was getting old and would soon die. It matters when you have to be a certain age to drink alcoholic beverages, obtain a driver’s license, be admitted to certain night clubs, or even register to vote.

And, as we reach that certain chronological age we are expected to function by the necessary rules which all lives should be lived; the basic rules of no name calling, no bullying, rants, divisiveness, lies, bigotry, and no hate speech. By that ‘certain age’ we are expected to know how to ‘play with others’, treat them with respect, dignity, compassion, understanding and fairness; in essence to live by the Golden Rule.

In today’s society there are some who have failed to grasp the lesson that life is to be celebrated with the enduring hope of a bright future for all. In our life’s celebrations and everyday experiences we listen and learn from those around us.  Usually we take them at face value and assume they are seasoned truth seekers who, as adults know and value the rules by which all lives should be lived. It is for this reason alone that I believe age really does matter.


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