These are stories of my fiftieth and seventieth birthday celebrations and the connection between them.
My mother was thirty years older than me, with our birthdays occurring the same week. So, a month before she was to turn 80 and me 50, I told her that I wanted to take her somewhere for 4-5 days, just us, to celebrate. She had wonderful memories of previous vacations in Bermuda with my dad when he was alive, so we picked that island as our destination. I’ve forgotten many of the details, but what I remember is the joy we each experienced during that trip and the fun we had appreciating each other, the beautiful weather in November, the beaches and the swimming pool, the delicious meals, and the shopping. She lived another 11 years and often mentioned how special that trip was and how much it meant to her. I still have a picture of the two of us on that trip hanging on my refrigerator.
Also for my fiftieth birthday, my gift to myself was plans for a Caribbean cruise two months later. I had never been on a cruise and, in general, they were not particularly appealing, but this one was different. There were to be several of my favorite authors on board, who were to be speaking throughout the 7-day trip. The common topics were psychic energy, near-death experiences, and creative visualization. Authors included Raymond Moody, Shatki Gawain, and tarot card designer, Jim Wanless.
My husband had no interest in the topics or authors and neither did any of my friends, so I took a chance and asked to be matched with a roommate. She turned out to be fine, though not someone with whom I continued the friendship. Another woman on board, Andrea, and I became close friends and remained so for more than twenty years, until her death last year.
I loved everything about the cruise – the food, the islands we visited, listening to the authors, and most of all, getting to know the authors and talking with them during meals and leisure activities. In fact, meeting the tarot card designer was the start for me of reading tarot cards, which eventually led me to doing ‘professional’ readings in Salem during Halloween season.
Thus, my fiftieth birthday and its celebrations were significant events in my life. Now, I’ll describe my seventieth and the connection between the two.
My son is twenty years younger than me, so when he was about to turn fifty and me seventy, I told him the story of going to Bermuda with his grandmother for our 50/80 birthdays. I asked Jack if he would consider going away with me for 4-5 days, assuring him that I would not be offended if he said no. He quickly responded that yes, he was interested, but where would we go? He and his wife live in North Carolina and he’s not much for travel.
After a little research, I suggested a week long Mississippi cruise, that would begin and end in New Orleans. There were no 4-5 day cruises available. I was thrilled when he said yes!
He took the train while I flew to New Orleans, boarding the ship late afternoon. My flight was uneventful and his train journey appeared to be, until he tried unsuccessfully to locate his luggage. He was assured that it would be located and returned to him wherever we were on our journey.
The challenge was that we didn’t have any idea WHEN! So, we went shopping for a couple of casual outfits for him, socks and underwear, then tracked down a CVS to purchase a week’s worth of his needed medications. What he was still missing was his CPAP machine, which eased his breathing while he was sleeping. He said he’d manage.
His luggage was returned on the fifth day of our seven-day cruise. He slept much better with his CPAP machine!
Other than that minor jolt to our plans, we had a delightful time. We probably had about half the meals and day excursions together, otherwise going our own way with plans to meet later. The cruise allowed us to maintain independent schedules, with plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company. In the mornings, we relaxed together outside our cabin, Jack with a coffee and me with a latte. In the evenings, we both loved the shows that were performed onboard.
Like the time spent with my mother twenty years before, the weather was great, the scenery appealing, the meals delicious, and, most important, the company incredibly special, deeply loved, and mutually appreciated.
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