In the first week of April, my daughter will turn 13, my sister 40 and my mother 65. I feel like I'm living in a TV movie about "life milestones" wherein the family matriarch enters official retirement age; her daughter goes through a broadly-played "mid-life moment" and the snarky teen-to-be takes approximately 5 minutes from her snarking to be grateful for a wind-fall of gifts.
In truth, my mother is in no way nearing retirement. My sister is particularly fixated on the huge "meaning" that underpins being 40, but then she was very fixated on turning 30 and 20 in much the same way. (Note: My sister really likes meaningful moments.) And my daughter has basically been 13 for the last 5 years, so we're all kind of over it.
But, you know, this convergence of life passages does lend itself to reflection. I live far from my family - my daughter is my only blood-relative living in the same country as me. Proximity is a basic tenet of celebration. It's a basic tenet of support through all the life experiences - some of them joyful, many of them very hard.
When I was 19, my parents and sister - ever the nomads - moved back to the States (from Toronto, where I still reside) and I made a decision not to join them. Who knows, maybe it was my first conscious act of adulthood. Maybe it was impossible, at that developmental stage, for me to understand that we would thereafter be separated by many miles and international travel. There's no special occasion associated with the encroaching realization that time passes and you are where you are.
Well there's a cheerful spin on things!
Really, not to dwell, in the past 23 years, I have created a family in a far away land, really more home to me than any other place has ever been. I'm delighted to find that, for her birthday, M has requested the attendance, at dinner, of beloved grown-up friends (whom she's known socially, as only and only-child can) since she's been conscious. It will be at a restaurant, where we are most definitely preferred guests, on the date when M's favourite server and resto-chum will be working. We'll celebrate Easter (in a rather secular fashion) at Hilary's over the weekend (with all of her family, with whom I holiday regularly). This week we have birthday plans with those same friends (above) and others - two of whom I've known since I was 15. Yeah, everyone I know falls under the birth sign of Aries.
Let's call it the circle of life.