The Big Six Zero

June 1st 2021 dawned like any other day. I hit my bedroom floor running at six thirty in the morning. Although it was my sixtieth birthday, I didn't look in the mirror to see if I'd aged. With my limited vision, I could see my reflection in the bureau mirror. But I already knew what the mirror would tell me.

As usual, I did my morning ablutions, then checked email and performed other tasks on my PC for about an hour before eating a quick breakfast and walking to my water exercise class at the YMCA.
In the pool, Eileen, who sang with me in a women's choral group, must have told the instructor it was my birthday. Before starting the workout, the instructor said, "Let's sing happy birthday to Abbie.
" Eileen started, and everyone else joined in. I was moved, almost to tears.

The rest of the morning went by as usual. After my class, I showered, dressed, and walked home. I worked on my computer for another hour or so. At noon, I walked to the senior center, where I’d eaten many times before. I planned to treat myself to a birthday lunch of lasagna with all the trimmings. I would also register as a senior citizen and obtain a card that would grant me reduced meal rates and other perks.

During my younger years, my family always celebrated my birthday with me. We usually went out to dinner at a nice restaurant, or Mother or Grandma prepared my favorite foods. Cake and presents abounded. One year, while I was working as a registered music therapist in a nursing home, my supervisor surprised me with an ice cream cake in the shape of a piano that my co-workers and I enjoyed.

Now, my parents, husband, and grandparents were gone. My younger brother and only sibling lived in Florida. I was self-employed as a writer. It was up to me to celebrate my own birthday.

"You're sixty? Really?" the older lady behind the front desk at the senior center said. I couldn't see her eyebrows but imagined they were raised.

"Yes. I know. I don't look my age."

"What’s your secret?"

Remembering what my cleaning lady said the week before on this subject, I answered, "Maybe I look so young because I've never had children. Can you imagine how the population would be affected if everyone believed this?"
She laughed.

Moments later, I had my card. The lady offered to attach it to my house keys, so I would always have it with me. I took her up on that.
Card and keys in hand, I made my way to the desk outside the dining room, where I would scan the card and pay for my meal before going in to eat. For statistical purposes, registered participants needed to scan their cards and indicate, on a touch screen, what activities, including meals, they planned to attend that day. Since I wasn't sure I'd be able to see the screen, I asked the woman behind the desk, who took my money, to scan the card for me, which she did. I watched her do it, and to my surprise, the print on the screen was large enough for me to see. From then on, I scanned my card independently unless someone offered to help, an offer I always accepted.

After a delicious lunch, during which I visited with people I knew and mentioned my birthday and so-called secret for looking young, I stopped in the lobby to buy a small container of soup to take home from the Grab and Go, which sold soup, sandwiches, and salads. After I placed my order, and the soup was brought to me in a plastic bag that I could carry home, as I reached into my purse to retrieve my billfold, the young lady behind the counter said, "It's already taken care of.

"Happy birthday!" a woman called from far away. I didn't recognize the voice and couldn't see her.
"She paid for your soup because it's your birthday," the young lady explained.

Amazed, I called out, "Thank you." I didn't know if she was within earshot.

I don't remember what happened the rest of that day, but it doesn't matter. Even though I didn't celebrate with family or co-workers or open a lot of presents, my sixtieth birthday was special.

Some people don’t want others to know about their birthdays or how old they are. For me, birthdays symbolize survival. I’m proud to be a senior citizen, alive and healthy.