By Anita Garner
As of June, 2021, I've lived longer than anyone else in three generations of my family, longer than both sets of 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.
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