I have a confession to make. And it’s a hard one for me. A real freakin’ doozy. It’s something I hate talking about. Even to myself. It could have something to do with the perpetual state of denial I’ve been living in for at least a decade. Or it could just be a human thing. Something we all share universally but pretend isn’t happening. At least not to ourselves. A collective confutation. Or a primordial survival mechanism that prevents us from making a Thelma and Louise pact and sailing gleefully over a cliff. Let’s just keep going.
So I’ve been keeping this big secret. Truth is, it’s not really like a secret secret. It’s just something I don’t lead with in conversation or in song. Come on Paul McCartney, did you ever really believe you’d reach sixty-four? Especially when you were fourteen. I couldn’t imagine being that old. Not even my parents were that old. And I didn’t have grandparents so there was no frame of reference. Except for Jenny, the lady The Old Man did household chores for when he wasn’t delivering bread. She was one of his customers, and back then she was called a spinster. She lived alone in a very nice house on a very good street that was very well kept on the outside by my father and on the inside by my mother. But I digress. This is all to say that Jenny was the oldest human being I knew when I was a kid. She was the gold standard for old. And she probably wasn’t even sixty-four.
But for me, and Paul McCartney, sixty-four is in my rear view mirror. So here it is. The big confession. I’m just going to blurt it out. Vomit the truth. Right here. Right now.
I am going to be seventy. The BIG SEVEN ZERO. Or seven-oh-my-god-how-the fuck-did-that-happen? To me of all people?
Not today. Or tomorrow. But almost smack dab in the middle of summer. The day after Lammas Day. Not to be confused with Llamas. Although that would be kind neat. A day to celebrate those cute little Camelids makes me feel all young and giddy.
I don’t like celebrating my birthday in a big splashy way on the best of days in the best of years or during the best of times. At best it’s awkward, especially if all eyes are on you, and at worst a painful reminder of the passage of time. And the older I get the faster it passes. Peculiar how that works. But I read somewhere that it’s actually a thing. I can’t say this with certainty because my memory is foggy when it comes to fun facts like that. But if this phenomena interests you feel free to Google it. I don’t have time for such endeavors. I’m going to be seventy, the day after Lammas Day for god’s sake.
This means I’ve got a lot of shit to do to make up for all the shit I didn’t do when I had all the time in the world to do it. I literally have to get my shit together.
The thing is, seventy sounds really really really old. Even to me. But inside me, it doesn’t feel old. Whatever that means. It’s all relative. Some days I feel the same as I did when I was sixteen, except without the teenage angst. Other days I feel like Grandma Moses, except without the artistic abilities and talent. Some days I feel like dancing. Other days I want to sleep the day away. I never know how it’s going to be, what to expect. Crazy. Nothing’s changed in that regard.
There is one thing that is truly truly shocking though. It has something to do with all the mirrors in the world. Lately, I’ve observed that they’re all carnival circus funhouse topsy-turvy dysmorphic and deceptive. I can’t see the real me any more. My true self appears to have morphed into an oldish woman. An oldish woman with absolutely fabulous red hair, even if I do say so myself. But still. Who the hell is she? There is some vague connection, I admit. Ma perhaps, haunting me from the grave.
But no. It’s me. And that makes no sense at all. Whatsoever. I’m startled. Stunned. Speechless. What I see and how I feel don’t match up. The incongruity is downright outrageous. Unsettling is an understatement. I don’t know how to align the two. The reflection in the mirror with my inner reflection. What the mirror displays vs what I see when I gaze inward. My perception of me vs what others must see. I find myself in a bit of a quandary. It’s a classic case of rock meets hard place.
But here’s a BIG philosophical and spiritual question I am pondering lately. Or a really big “shew” for those oldish enough to get the Ed Sullivan reference. Is the woman I see when I close my eyes and look deeply inward, the true reality? The more accurate reflection of who I am? An ageless being traveling, not on an earthly linear continuum with a predetermined expiry date, but a ubiquitous, ephemeral space girl morphing and transforming, shape-shifting and redesigning, and ever-evolving throughout eternity. No beginning. No end. Sometimes seen. Sometimes not.
Here, there and everywhere. Infinite. Boundless. Enigmatic. Playfully taking on different entities. A trompe-l’œil. A trickster illusionist. The creator. And the creation. Indivisible. For ever and ever unfolding.
One day a flower. And the next, the lingering scent.
71 Things I’m Grateful For.
(One for every year and one for good luck.)
- My parents – The Old Man and Ma. You weren’t perfect but you were perfect for me.
- The privilege of being here right now in this space at this extraordinary time in history. Many, far younger than me, will not have this exquisite experience.
- This body for being my Earth Suit and for holding so much over the past 70 years, especially my three beautiful cherished children, Tom, Aimee and Melissa.
- My precious grand daughter Abby for making me a boo.
- Eric for being on this crazy wonderful mystifying, sometimes sad and scary, journey with me for the past 30 years – even when we piss each other off.
- Danielle for making Tom so happy and for taking such good care of my hair.
- Liam for being such a good guy for Melissa.
- My siblings and all my extended family, especially those back in my hometown in Ontario and in Nova Scotia.
- All the dogs I’ve loved – starting with Sugar Miettinen.
- My mind for its radical curiosity and capacity to seek something new to learn every day.
- All the small beautiful moments each day that make me smile, bring tears to my eyes, fill my heart and spirit with the music of laughter and love.
- All the love I’ve received, especially in unexpected ways, including the kindness of strangers.
- Early mornings. Getting up before the rest of the household to do Bonney things in quiet solitude and reflection.
- This home I share with my family and friends.
- The backyard with it big rock and ancient trees that butt onto the wild Garry Oak meadow that feels like we’re living in the country in the heart of the city.
- The blueberries Eric grows and picks just for me every year. So magnificent.
- Daily walks with our dogs throughout our beautiful community.
- Our neighbors for being so neighborly, kind and generous.
- My guitar and clarinet.
- My yoga practice that I started at age 17 with my lifelong friend Bev.
- My BFF Bev, my soul sister and treasure.
- All the beautiful women who have been a part of my life over the past 70 years – some for the long haul and some briefly. The amount of time isn’t a reflection of the meaning and impact of our time together. You all matter to me.
- All the extraordinary women I have interviewed for Girl Warriors who have trusted me with their stories.
- My new computer and all the other writing instruments I’ve had over the years – from pencils and papers to this snazzy brand new iMac.
- My eternal connection to Lake Superior and the Sleeping Giant. Thunder Bay will always have my heart.
- The quiet serenity and peace I find in my daily meditations.
- All the teachers I’ve had – those in the classroom and those who came into my life and just taught me things.
- All things creative – art, music, dance, wonder and imagination.
- My lifelong love affair with books and reading.
- All the activists who work tirelessly to take care of the Sentient Beings of our Earth. The freedom fighters (past and present), the environmentalists, the animal rescuers, the peacekeepers, the human and civil rights leaders, the feminists, the caretakers and caregivers, the protectors, the saviors, the educators, the lovers.
- Technology for good.
- My e-bike that makes cycling so much easier. Hills? What hills?
- The exuberant sound of the school kids across the street when the recess bell rings.
- The magical wild flowers that grow in High Rock Park and the deer that roam our neighborhood.
- Our pond filled with all the fish that Eric has named.
- The smell of coffee first thing in the morning.
- Airplanes even though I’m afraid of flying. They make long journeys short.
- Cars even though I’m afraid of driving. They’re useful for road trips.
- The country road I walked every day on my lunch hours for the 13 years I worked at Suburbia Studios and all the farm animals that greeted me – the chicken girls, the hilarious sheep, the goats, the cows and the horses. The blackberries I picked from the side of the road that became me favorite summer dessert while walking.
- My work colleagues and the friendships formed during our time together. From the day I started at the first ad agency in Toronto all those years ago, I knew I had found my people.
- Holidays and celebrations, especially Christmas.
- Hot summer nights spent on the deck sipping beer with Eric.
- The ocean and my private thinking spot in Saxe Point where I went to “church.”
- The call of Canada Geese in the fall. Never fails to bring a lump in my throat. Reminds me of growing up at 204 and all the Autumns spent there.
- The beauty of nature, especially birds, bees and butterflies.
- Animal videos, especially the ones showing the antics of cats. Such natural comedians.
- Family dinners especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and everyone’s birthday celebration.
- The decades of Thanksgiving Bluegrass Jams we held at our house. The joy of live music, the remarkable talent of our musician friends, the generosity of spirit that graced our living room year after year, is rare and sweet and I’ve never taken it for granted.
- The smell of cookies, cakes or pies baking in the oven, especially on a Sunday afternoon in the dead of winter.
- The first time my children said mumumumum.
- Farmers and all the people who grow things so we can eat.
- Everyone who works in the restaurant industry – for all the delicious meals and fun times I’ve enjoyed.
- All the makers of stuff that I wear on my body (from head to toe), the things I use to care for my body (inside and out), our little white house, the furnishings in our home, the vehicles we drive, the buildings where we work, shop, play, explore, get entertained and educated.
- My iPhone that I use mostly as a camera and for texting.
- Pizza and pasta and all things Italian, especially Ma.
- Going to the movie theater and eating popcorn smothered in butter and finishing it before the feature even starts.
- Saturday night dinner and a movie with my daughter Aimee in the comfort of our living room.
- Wednesdays with Kirby.
- Phone calls with my brother Bill and sis-in-law June and the update texts from Sher in between.
- Good surprises and unexpected gifts for no reason.
- Really good conversations – so good that you don’t want them to end.
- All the music festivals and concerts I’ve attended over the years.
- Lying on the grass looking up at the stars.
- The cute sound those little frogs make around our pond.
- Farmers markets and craft fairs, especially the ones around Christmas.
- All the kind and thoughtful people who have helped me over the years.
- Afternoons at the lake, sand between my toes, the smell of suntan lotion, BBQ hotdogs and fries, and all the sounds of summer, especially the joyous squeals and laughter.
- The first snowfall and the blanket of silence it brings.
- The maple tree, aka Marion, in the front yard and the poplar in the back yard, aka Bill, that sprouted in the yard at 204, and that I smuggled in my purse, transported across the country, planted first in pots, and then in the ground, when we bought this house. You are both magnificent.
- Big hugs and gentle kisses on the cheeks.
- All the memories.