How to Celebrate Advancing Age

Celebrate the abundance of God's grace

Not everyone gets to celebrate two birthdays each year—but my husband does. His second birthday falls on January 3rd, 2003—the day of his stem cell transplant. In a few months, he will have outlived the average life expectancy of a non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with CNS involvement patient by 13 years. Every January we celebrate a miracle.

His first birthday rolls around every September 16th. Yesterday, we celebrated with our family—eight boys who comprise our faculty family and my parents.

I made his second favorite dessert—Dulce de Leche Cheesecake (he likes flan the best, but I don’t have a flanera), and the boys and I started an off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday.” He loved it anyway.

After most of the boys had left, one intrepid young man leaned forward and said, “Mr. Ojeda, do you mind if I ask you how old you are today?”

Pedro laughed and replied, “Not at all, but I’m going to make you work for it. Yesterday I was 12, today I am 13, and next year I’ll be 5.”

The stunned student had no idea what to think. “How old are you?” I asked him.

“Sixteen.”

“So that makes you seven in Ojeda birthday math.”

“How old do you think I am?” Pedro asked him.

“About 64 or 65.”

I choked down a cackle of laughter.

“How old do you think Mrs. Ojeda is?” Pedro asked.

“The same age.”

“How about Mrs. Strawn?” Pedro continued.

“About 65, too, I think.”

My mom smiled. It’s been awhile since anyone accused her of being nine years younger than her age—not to mention someone thinking that she and I were the same age.

“And Mr. Strawn?”

“I’d guess around 67.”

My dad sat back with a self-satisfied look on his face.

We told the young man my parents’ real ages, and then their Ojeda ages.

It still took another five minutes to help him figure out that we add the digits of our age—it makes it so much easier to celebrate without burning a hole in the dessert.

“Forty-nine!” he finally exclaimed. “And next year you’ll turn 50. You’re a pretty good bike rider for an old person,” he added.

After he shook Pedro’s hand and wished him happy birthday, he returned to campus to hang out with his friends.

Pedro, my parents and I ribbed each other on our arrival to old agedom. “Old is old for kids, I guess,” my mom said.

We don’t celebrate because we look young—we celebrate because of the blessings God has bestowed upon us: health, life, energy, a crazy fun and challenging job, family, friends and knowing that God has us exactly where he wants us.

We don't celebrate because we look young--we celebrate because of God's grace. Click To Tweet

Why do you celebrate?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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