by Beth Diane Bradley
I turned 57 in August, and was born in 1957. I looked it up, and sure enough, that phenomenon is called the Beddian Birthday — after a New York firefighter named Bobby Beddia, who told mathematician Rhonda Roland Shearer he felt lucky to be living his birth year – It was his 53rd birthday and he was born in 1953. Tragically, he died later that day in the line of duty. Shearer went on to research the mathematical theory behind this birthday, which not everyone will experience.
I agree with the late Mr. Beddia, this is a birthday of significance — although every birthday we have is special, compared to the alternative. But when it comes to the part about getting older, sometimes you have to try a little harder to see the up side.
When I look in the mirror, I see my mother or my aunt, or my older sister, but I can’t seem to find my younger self any more. I don’t need to list the things that change over time – all we have to do is look to the advertisers hawking products that promise us a more youthful exterior, at least until the bottle is empty.
And apparently we are supposed to start buying those products before signs of aging actually occur, because the most popular age group advertisers want to reach is 25 to 54. They must assume we all drop dead at 55. At least it’s nice of them to want us to look good until our demise.
This societal pressure to remain forever young on the outside challenges us to think about all the good things about being over the proverbial hill. The most obvious virtue being the vast wisdom one collects over the decades.
I can’t say I personally experienced the 50’s, since I was three when they expired. But during the 60’s, I learned that peace, love and rock and roll were totally groovey. I really wanted to go to Woodstock, but unfortunately it was past my bedtime.
In the 80’s, I returned to college after taking a three year break to contemplate my navel, as they called it back in the day . I changed my major 5 times and finally graduated at 25, which earned me a lifetime membership in the late bloomer club.
I also got married and became a mother as the decade unfolded, and I started to realize I could learn a lot of things from my kids. For example, I recall asking my 5-year-old son if he could show me how to use a mouse, since he used one to play computer games at his pre-school. And if my kids ever want to know what it was like to type college term papers on a manual typewriter, all they have to do is ask.
I spent the next twenty years raising my sons, which gave me a nice combination of gray hairs, worry lines and plenty of free advice to share with anyone who will listen. And when no one does, I’ve learned to be okay with that too, because we all have to learn things our own way. That guarantees there will be a new generation of old sages to replace us. And the beat goes on…