I got a nice birthday card from a friend who remarked that this is a special birthday for me, as I will be 56 and I was born in 1956.

I had not thought of it that way and told my husband I might write about my birthday, which is tomorrow.

“Oh, you may not want to do that,” he said.

“Why?”

“Because some people are sensitive about birthdays.”

Well, I’m certainly not.

I have never had a problem telling someone how old I am when they’ve asked.

I guess I’ve never understood people’s resistance to telling their age.

I feel privileged to be this old.

I’ve lived a good long life, dodged some nasty bullets, seen a lot of interesting things, done a fair amount of traveling and experienced a lot of joy, as well as some sorrows, which only served to teach me how lucky I am to be here.

Call me a Pollyanna, but I’m not one to complain about my lot in life.

I see people around me with cancer or other terrible diseases. I interview people with no place to live, no job and no money, those who struggle with mental illness, loss of spouses, children, siblings and parents.

When I was young, before I had a chance to experience much of life, I had lots of things to complain about. My teachers were mediocre, the political system was corrupt, people were closed-minded and the rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer. Life wasn’t fair.

One day a friend told me I complained a lot.

“Huh?” I asked.

“You’re a complainer,” she said.

I remember stopping dead in my tracks, shocked that she would say such a thing.

Did I really gripe all the time? Was that the image I projected to the world? I was incredulous.

I began to monitor my thoughts, words and actions. I did bang the pots and pans a little bit too loudly when I couldn’t find the right one. And I tended to swear at the tiniest of things.

It’s amazing how a good 30 years can change your view of the world.

I’ve seen friends and relatives get sick and eventually die; here one day and gone the next. I’ve had my own health battles and survived. I’ve lost friends to illness and accidents. I’ve learned life really does end, and that we all are going there — it’s just a matter of when.

I’ve got a good job, a great husband, two lovely cats, loyal friends and a lively and interesting extended family.

I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of what’s happening in the world, derive great satisfaction from reading books and like to watch good films. Laughing is a lot of fun.

I’ve got a lot to be happy about — and thankful for.

At my age, there’s nothing, really, to complain about.

I wake up every morning and think about how lucky I am to be here.

From this vantage point, 56 is looking pretty good.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 24 years. Her column appears here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]


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