Thursday, March 2, 2006

Life begins at 80


Photos by Sue Watson
Good times
(Top) Lois Swanee prepares to cut the cake as her daughter Jorja Lynn lights the candles. (Above) Joey Miller shares a hug with Swanee.

Wow! Turning 80 is wonderful! Everyone is surprised that you are still alive! When you turn 80 everybody treats you with respect and wants to help you up the steps, hold the door for you, and forgive you for forgetting their names. Sometimes I can’t even remember my grandchildren’s beautiful names. A while ago, I could remember all my children and grandchildren’s telephone numbers but now they all have two or three phone numbers and I can hardly remember my own numbers. (I have four!)

People think you are as old as Methuselah when you reach 80 but I’ve decided life begins at 80! When you reach 80, you ask everybody to quit mumbling because you can’t hear them.

Lots of older folks complain about their aches and pains and the only conversation is about the visits to the doctor and what the doctor said. However, everybody expects octogenarians to be retired, maybe even move to Florida to sit in the sun.

However, that’s not for me. I am addicted to working and I’m also addicted to shade as the sun makes wrinkles and saps my energy. On reaching 80 I’ve decided that when you are 80 people will forgive you for anything, as you are so old. Folks are surprised that you have lived so long. They are surprised that you can walk and talk sensibly. At 80, life seems to be a succession of parties. My parties began last week and there was at least one each day for a week.

Robert Browning said “the best of life is yet to be” and you are preparing all your life to be 80. Then you can coast and people will forgive you for anything, even if I can’t remember appointments or plan to be in three places at one time.

Apex of my life

The apex of my life was this past week when my six children gave me a party in honor of my 80th birthday. They have been working on it for months but I didn’t know it. The birthdays with zeros on the end are always cause to celebrate. The theme was pink, even the house was decorated with pink balloons and my car was decorated with pink ribbons. We had pink “Baptist Punch” which was truly delicious plus a pink polka dotted cake with enough pink candles for each decade of my life.

The men in my life had on pink ties, the girls were all dressed in pink and all the family had on pink rose boutonnières so everyone would know who they were. Although we had to pin the 1-year old-boy’s rose on the back of his shirt so he didn’t know it was there. The sun didn’t shine but the rain didn’t fall either. It was a beautiful moderately cool day and lots of friends came.

Senator Cochran’s office called last week and said he couldn’t be there as he had to be in Natchez, but this morning (Monday) Senator Cochran, himself called and gave his regrets and promised to be by the Museum soon. The White House, Senator Lott and Congressman Wicker also were invited as was the Governor, who called on Friday to say he and the first lady could not come because of a previous engagement. These are indeed special guests, but my family and those friends who came are the most precious to me.

I had requested no gifts. At this stage of my life I am giving away and downsizing. Octogenarians have to do this, as we can’t take it with us. I didn’t want anything else I had to dust. I just wanted hugs, kisses and cards and best wishes.

Family, friends and fellowship; what better way to celebrate an 80th birthday party?

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