Great BIG Birthday

By Anita Garner

As of June, 2021, I’ve lived longer than anyone else in three  generations of my family, longer than grandparents, longer than Mother and Daddy, longer than my sisters and brothers. None of them got to be 80, the number I’m now celebrating.  Getting to be 80  years old doesn’t feel like a random event. It feels momentous.

I’m not the only one among my kinfolk with hopes and dreams and plans and I’m mindful of many opportunities the people who came before didn’t have. I was present at the end of the lives of some of them and heard first-hand what they wished they could have stayed around to accomplish.

One of the last things Mother said to me was, “You’re lucky you were born when you were.  You have choices I never had.”  Both those things are true. I remain in awe of all she accomplished during her time, in places and ways no one could have predicted. I hope somehow she knows how it all turned out.

At the end of Daddy’s life, he exhibited no restlessness about his closing chapters. He spoke only of gratitude.  “I have had me some beautiful morning walks.” I wish he could have had many more.

During my 80th year I have the privilege of holding in my hand a book just published.  My family lived it but I was the one who lived long enough to write about it.

I’m a person of faith so none of this feels accidental or coincidental.  Wherever the stories come from, in whatever form they want to take, written or spoken, I’ll keep putting them together, though perhaps not as driven as Mother and a bit more grateful like Daddy.






14 thoughts on “Great BIG Birthday”

  1. A very Happy Birthday to you, Anita and thank you for “The Glory Road”. Your vivid stories and insights inside are a gift to anyone who takes the opportunity to read it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Kathy! I’m feeling nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to tell some of my family’s stories. It still feels like a miracle – having all this happen in my 80th year.

  3. What a way to celebrate such a milestone. Can’t wait to see what happens in each subsequent year. I’m loving the book and looking forward to the movie!

  4. Thank you dear Laura, for being in my life, for reading the family stories and your kindness, always.

  5. Thank you, Jane! As you can tell from my thoughts here – I’m still in the part where this feels like a miracle. Just having the choices to keep doing things – that’s a real gift.

  6. Anita, When you wrote on Facebook that this was a “big” birthday, I figured it was your 65th…maybe 70th trip around the sun. Certainly not your 80th. Congratulations – you wear it well!

  7. Thank you, Ken. One interesting thing about being this age is that I have no expectation of how it should look or feel. Mine is the singular experience in my extended family. ‘m proceeding without a map and treasuring the adventure.

  8. Dave – good that you said “sense of” because though that may be your perception, it’s not always the reality. Same old story – some days you got it, some days you ain’t got it. But glad to inspire anytime I can.

  9. Congratulations on two glorious milestones in the same year ! I admire your many accomplishments and the fact that you never gave up on this dream. I knew it would happen and am so happy for you. This blog is lovely and filled with gratitude. I still can’t believe you’re 80. Knowing you I now believe it’s just a number as they say.

  10. Welcome to the 80’s! My grandparents lived as long or longer than I but they were not as active and helathy as I am.
    My parents both died at 68, husband at 55 and younger sister at age 56. I feel every day is a gift. At 61 I opened a new chapter of my life and at 82 made another change in it.

    Lucky me. No complaints. Except for the bones and joints who doesn’t seem to appreciate all those years of wear and tear!

  11. Grace – I followed your move to New Orleans and your immersion into that city, and now await more reports from your new home in Kentucky. I’m impressed and inspired by all you continue to accomplish. Living your life fully, the way you do, is a great example.

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