What 36 feels like

Today I turn 36.

Gone are the mid-decade milestones: the 16s, the 21s, and the 25s (rental car). Now it’s all about the decades, until social security, which will be at least 67, but probably later.

Retirement? Never!

I used to tell my Grandpa Wilt that I graduated college and then retired. That I was living life backwards and traveling while I was full of questions, curiosity, energy, and the capability to sit and stand in one place on buses, planes, and boats for obscene amounts of time.

And when I was working, I was SCUBA diving. I joked that I was going to be a boat captain. Grandpa was a common sense company man with a suit and a tie and a healthy retirement.

Grandpa didn’t lived long enough to see what became of all my traveling. His hard work helped fund my first trip into the World. Grandma and Grandpa gave all the grandkids $5,000 when they graduated college. Even I wouldn’t have guessed that that investment would carry me to 36, and led to a meaningful career telling stories.

If birthday wishes could come true, I’d wish he were here for a few days to read my books and talk over coffee. I wish we could talk about raising kids, and about his time in Europe and Korea in the military. I wish he could introduce my kids to his funny phrases because they are indeed “farts in skillets.”

From Then to Now

My daughter Harper just turned six. I remember six.

When my parents were 36, I was 11. I clearly remember when they were 36.

I remember when my grandpa retired.

What does 36 feel like? It feels like the first birthday that is less about me and more about those who came before and those who come after.

I feel younger, reliving a childhood through my kids, Griffin and Harper.

I feel youthful. I have more energy now than ever. I credit meaningful work, CrossFit, and not having kids under three.

I’m old enough to know that there is so much I don’t know.

I’m old enough to realize, I’m neither invincible or immortal, which empowers me to enjoy the small moments that make up a day and a life.

As I near middle age, I look to my kids and see the future, and I look to my parents and see the past. I see that I carry my family’s story from then to now.

And for that I feel honored.

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Kelsey, it was funny when you mentioned your grandma and garage sales as in a few more days your mom and I was in the hospital at the same time. As you were born on the 6th and Shannon the 10th. Well that Sat. your grandma Francis came in my room with a white trash bag full of things. This is as close to what she told me. ” Well congratulations on your daughter’s birth. All my kids so far has had boys and I thought Lynne was having a girl but we have another cute grandson so would you mind taking these?” As I looked in the bag your grandma told me that she had gone to garage sales and found these cute girls clothes and since she had no girls would I accept them as a gift. I told her I would gladly pay her but you know grandma and was totally against that. I told her thank you so much and that Shannon would wear them which she did. She visited me before she left and let me know what your name was and that you and your mom would be going home too. I can tell you this 4 days after your mom had you and she still looked like she did before getting pregnant skinny just like now..Your mom looks just like she did when I was always down at the house with Cathy. You have great memories of your grandparents and that great..Share everyone that you can with your kids so they will always be alive in the generations ahead. I thought alot of your family. I just missed them all when they moved..It was nice your mom was already with your dad so she stayed here. I would use her as my contact for a good while..My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

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