Two loved ones in my extended family turn 40 years young during this month of January. To Caroline and Steve: Happy Birthday to You! I hope you celebrate mightily!
Of all the decade markers I've lived through to date, 40 was most symbolic for me and it was also the birthday that I chose to celebrate out of town with good friends. The other major birthdays (those ending in a 5 or a 0) were certainly celebrated but closer to home and on a smaller scale.
For my 40th Birthday, I chose to stand on "Hospital Hill" amidst the ruins of the Lago Hospital in Aruba and salute the magnificent view of Colorado Point, the cactus fields, and the raging blue of the north coast pounding the rock ledges between the point and B.A. Beach. This place, after all, was where I made my entrance into the world and it will always hold a special place in my heart. In some ways, I love that the place now exists in its natural form, the hospital has long since been broken down but the hill remains intact and the view is unspeakably gorgeous. Mom always reminds me that for the several hours before I was born at 2:10 PM on an August afternoon, the sun was blazing through the glass windows of the so-called "labor room" and she wore sunglasses as she lived through those moments. Once she was wheeled into the delivery room the anesthetist removed the sunglasses, saying "I don't think you'll need these anymore, Mrs. Thompson."
On the day of my 40th birthday I was with my family, Laura, Chris, and Denny and with good friends Brenda, Ed, and their two boys Tristan and Jonathan Bradshaw. As I recall, we adults opened up cold Amstel Beer on that windy, warm and sunny afternoon and toasted the day, August 27, 1994. It was exactly what I had envisioned doing on my 40th birthday and the moments unfolded sweetly from there. Later that day we hiked around Colorado Point (another of my favorite places on earth) and enjoyed a dinner out and later a cake from De Dissel, an authentic Dutch bakery in Oranjestad. The photographs from that day are happy, smiles all around. It was one of the loveliest days of my life.
Turning 40 was good. Turning any age is good. All I know is that we keep getting wiser and stronger. Experience is a golden gift and the hope is that we unwrap this gift with enthusiastic joy and keep moving forward for the better.
Again, to Steve and Caroline: Happy Birthday and Much Love!