Today’s the big day. Thirty-six years old.
When I turned 18, my step-grandpa sent me a birthday card. Included with this card was a letter to be opened the day after my birthday. I did actually wait until April 25 to open that letter, and I found that it welcomed me to the adult world.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how this birthday signifies an entry into my adult majority: the point in my life where I will have been an adult longer than I was a child. I don’t know why that is important right now, but it is. I feel Grandpa Tom’s (GPT) letter ties into why it is important. I kept that letter all these years, so what I really want to do for my birthday post is share that letter with you.
“My dear Christy:
What a big day yesterday was: 18 at last. I want you to know how proud of you I am for the way you have lived your life so far and your interest in education.
Some way, the powers that be decided that for the first 6,750 days (plus a few leap days) of a person’s life we would all be children (our minority), and that the next day we would all be adults (our majority). On that day all the rules would change. Each of us would be governed by the laws pertaining to adults. We would be totally responsible for our actions, our parents would no longer have any legal responsibility for what we did, nor could they legally exercise control over our actions. We would now be responsible for all debts we create. We would now stand in front of a judge to pay society for our transgressions without regard to age or experience. We could marry, divorce, adopt, abort, move any place we care to, obtain a passport, sky dive, smoke, work wherever and whatever hours we care to, refuse to work, have credit cars, and on and on.
What a load of responsibility our government piles on each of us just because we happened to live until our 6,751st day. No sane person, only a government, would declare that every person is prepared and ready to be an adult on a given day in their lives. The older I get the more unfair it seems.
God and modern science gives the average person over 31,000 days to live. Day one we begin to learn how to eat. Then we proceed to learn to walk, talk, not dirty our pants, read, write, think, drive, learn to support ourselves, have and raise a family, provide for our retirement, old age, and eventually death.
I like God’s way better. Start at the beginning, add knowledge and abilities day by day, proceed in some orderly fashion to the end. Don’t push the cocoon, be cool, just let life happen.
You have now lived about 20% of a normal life span. I think you have done exceptionally well with the first fifth of your life. God gave you a super brain, good looks, fine health, and a supportive family. Who could ask for more? I’m going to try to stick around for awhile to see what my granddaughter can do with the next fifth.
When your mother informed me that you were on the way, she asked what I wanted you to call me. I informed her that I was too young (44) to be a grandfather, that you could just call me Tom. The compromise was Grandpa Tom.
After us having each other for 18 years, it is with pride that I am your:
I love you very much. I pray for your happy and successful adulthood. Don’t forget the fun part!”
As of today, I’ve lived 12,787 days, or about 45% of my life if I experience the average life expectancy (82.2 years for an American woman, per Wikipedia). GPT almost made it through the next fifth of my life, considering he passed away in 2010 when he was 77 and I was 32.
Looking back on this letter, I agree with GPT. Eighteen is too young an age to arbitrarily throw all of that responsibility on someone. I wish someone had intervened on some of my choices along the way: dropping out of college, my marriage at the ripe old age of 21, staying in a miserable marriage, etc… Yet, if I hadn’t experienced those things, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
So today I am grateful. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned both from the choices I’ve made and from the things that have been out of my control. I’m grateful I’m in a place in my life where I don’t push the cocoon (what does that even mean?!) so much anymore. I can just be cool, and I can just let life happen much more easily than I once could. I do wish I began accepting that lesson earlier, but all you can do is add knowledge and abilities day by day.
I’m looking forward to the majority of my majority.
I’m learning about making the fun part of life a priority.
I can only live life day by day.
So I’ll keep doing that until I float away.
Happy birthday to me. Thanks to my mom for bringing me into this damn fine world.