The Moonpie and My Great Aunt: 90 Years and Counting

This weekend I traveled to New Jersey to help celebrate my great aunt Ester's 90th birthday. Ester is the fifth woman related to me to reach the age of 90. This is awful. The writing is on the wall. I am doomed to a minimum of 6 more decades on this planet. Honestly, I'm not in the mood. Three decades has been quite enough, thank you. Even though I have accomplished very little. But this isn't about me. Or at least it wasn't on Saturday when my family celebrated Ester's 90 years on the planet.

My parents were unable to attend the birthday bash at Charlie Brown's steakhouse as they had a wedding to attend. However, my mother informed me that I was not to arrive at my aunt's party empty handed, that I needed to bring a birthday gift. I always thought my evervesant presence was present enough. My mother disagreed. I tried explaining to mom that a 90 year old woman is not a five year old child, even if they are the same height, I don't think she really needs a gift. I suggested that for Ester's birthday we give her the gift of having to pretend she likes what people have gotten her. I find that gifts are so rarely about the gift receiver. Usually it's about the gift giver who wants mad props for the gift they have given the gift receiver. Which is ironic because it's a rare case when the gift giver actually puts much thought into the gift they are giving. However, if the gift receiver doesn't act like each gift is a winning lottery ticket the gift receiver is deemed rude and ungrateful. As if the gift receiver asked for gifts in the place. I think all gifts really do is show how little family members actually know about one another. My mother a slave to social convention rejected my thesis and said, "Go get her a gift, and say it's from the three of us. (me, my mom and my dad)"

Fine. But, what do you get someone who is turning 90? What could they possibly need besides another drink or maybe a 70 year old giglo? If my aunt Ester's party is indication 90 year old women are in desperate need of cardigan sweaters. I guess when you hit a certain age your arms get very very cold, yet your chestal area remains comfortable. Also I gather that the rough and tumble world of the nursing/retirement homes has these ladies tearing through cardigans because my aunt received no fewer than 7 cardigan sweater. 7! And not even 7 different cardigan sweaters. She got two of the exact same sweaters from two different guests. What is funny is that a sweater was one of the gift ideas my mother had given me. However, I rejected that suggstion and thought "outside of the box." I got my aunt new bike tires. Then I told her to make sure she left these tires to me in her will. I figure I'm going to need bike tires in about five years and the timing should be about right. I mean how much longer can she live? She's not going to live 20 more years, is she? Oh god, I hope not. Not that she's not a lovely lady, she actually is pretty cool. But just like those gifts this isn't about her, and I don't think I can handle a 110 years.


Anonymous said…
I'm with you. I have not seen anything to convince me to live past 80. My grandmother, thank goodness, is 90 and healthy, mobile, and sane. However, I personally don't want to press my luck.
rachael said…
I don't fear illness as much as i fear ongoing hearbreak and constant non-achievement for decades upon decades. I also fear the impending class war--I think we're all going to loose.