Milestone birthdays are due for three special women: my mother-in-law will celebrate her 90th, my paternal aunt is still undecided if she will have a party for her 70th birthday, and yours truly is turning a new leaf to mark 55 seasons in a fun and memorable way.
I don’t know why all of a sudden I am this excited for my double-five birthday that’s coming up in 20 days yet as I write this blog. I guess my thoughts for the other two special women in my life have a lot to do with it.
For a nanogenarian, Faustina is remarkably healthy with no major health issues except for her knee arthritis. At 90 that’s certainly a huge accomplishment and blessing. She may not be able to hold her stand for longer than a half hour or so, or take a fairly good aided walk, but her mind is still sharp for her age. Her strength may be waning, her eyesight failing, all her other physical attributes diminishing, but everything’s she’s losing on the outside she’s offsetting in what the eyes don’t see.
Faustina’s grown more tender-hearted, tolerant, passive, and less and less of the tough, strong-willed, impassioned person/woman/mother/grandmother/matriarch that her family has dearly known all their life. For once, she cannot say no to birthday plans that her children and grandchildren are mounting for her – even if they keep things in wraps. They’d probably be thinking that they could hide these matters from her. Oh no, not for long. The grand old lady is still mentally and intuitively sharp, remember?
Carmen, on the other hand, at 70, is still sharper, stronger, obviously younger. But wait, I don’t mean to compare them. I see two bar graphs of two women approaching their respective tenths milestones, hence I should be drawing parallels here, not comparisons and contrasts. For these are two strong, nurturing persons (who happen to be women) that have ruled the course of their respective families’s lives all these many years since their spouses passed on to them that responsibility. Quite a feat, to say the least.
Carmen was notoriously known in her youth as a terror aunt. How we cringed at her command. She was our Maria and we, her nieces and nephews, were all her wards in our growing up years without the notes of the “Sound of Music” tempering what we called her spinster moods. We can now all look back with fun and laughter to those days when she’d force us to sit or squat still for hours so she could hunt for lice in our summer-baked hairs. If we moved listlessly we’d get a pinching in the sideburns or one ear.
Her love and devotion to us were one for the books as they were characteristic of a lady getting past her prime in those days. We all wished for her prince charming to come and claim her one day. Oh, we were not disappointed. Our guardian angels probably fasttracked our prayers to heaven as we were all growing up fast through all those summers before teenage rebellion could set in and make monster wards out of us.
Hence when Ernesto, the Engineer, got smitten by Carmen’s beauty (she was and still is a brown beauty) we all got crazy happy and excited. We saw her transforming from a terror to a tender aunt. Watching them furtively on the sidelines gave us our first lessons in understanding the body language of two persons in love: twinkle in the eyes, moving about and doing nothing, stolen glances, hearty laughter and the all-too-obvious blush like a rush of emotion that needed ventilating. She was 28 or 29 then.
Fastforward to age 70. The years even in the absence of Ernesto have sustained Carmen well. She greatly mellowed, but could still tap, when necessary, that wellspring of passionate emotions within her as dictated by her religiosity and conservatism. She guided her three children and us, too, with that kind of wisdom – a wisdom borne of her uncompromising faith in the Holy Trinity. We all love and adore her truly for who she was and is in our lives.
As I commemorate my own milestone, I cannot help but be moved by Faustina’s and Carmen’s conquests. I draw inspiration and lessons from their personas as women, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, friends, too, and all other hats that they wore in their longevity. Looking back, they successfully built their own empires of a stable family of successful, strong, willful, loyal, loving, respectful and devoted children who are as unique as their crown mothers had been with their respective fathers leaving foot paths guiding the queens’ steps, too.
I am in a more blessed position at 55 as I do not have to do the royal walk alone.