Sixty-One Blessings



Last year, in honor of my sixtieth birthday, I compiled a list of the 60 most influential women in my life.

The list included family members, friends, poets, activists and authors.

I intended to write a blog about each person on the list.

I considered gathering recipes from each person, living or dead. I already have Emily Dickinson’s “Black Cake” recipe! My list, and the essays, combined with photos and recipes  could be assembled into a nice book, I thought.

In the course of the entire last year, I wrote three essays on women from my list: Mom (#1), Johanna Spyri (#38) and Emma Jean (#24).

That’s me, full of ideas…brimming with good intentions. My life is punctuated by unfinished projects!

Still, it was a good exercise, just writing the names. It caused me to think about who influenced my life, and how, and why.

For my birthday this year, I’m counting blessings.

First, two parents who loved their children and always did their best.

Five grandparents: four that I knew personally and loved; one that I was acquainted with only through her photo – always on display in my childhood home – and the stories my Dad told.

Ten siblings: I’m eternally grateful for every single one of them. Each one – even those that died in infancy – has helped to guide and shape my life.

Two daughters: by far the most heart-wrenching, soul-stretching, life-enriching blessings in my life.

Four strong, smart and handsome grandsons.

One charming, intelligent and beautiful granddaughter.

Three in-laws: father, mother and sister, who I’m glad to have known.

Seventeen nieces and nephews. And now their children…and their children’s children.

Other relatives: aunts and uncles and cousins.

Friends: I’m happy to say I’ve gained at least as many as I’ve lost over the years, and appreciate every single one.

Two sweet dogs.

Three one-hundred-year-old Maple trees on the north side of my house.

Six jobs. No, maybe seven.

Two vehicles: both in good running order.

One non-running vehicle that has served me well as a “garage”.

A fresh, unopened bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

My mother’s hope chest!

Seventy-five cookbooks!

Paul McCartney’s autograph!!

Almost one hundred birthday greetings on my Facebook page!

Cards and gifts from family and friends!

Phone calls from loved ones on my birthday!

Clearly, I should be much older than this.

Sixty-one is too small a number, for counting all the blessings in my life!

24 responses »

    • Oh, Lisa, that “sixty-one-derful” will keep a smile on my face all year, whenever I reflect on my age! Thanks for reading, and for this outstanding way to think about being sixty-one!

    • It seems that every birthday is an emotional time, thinking of the years gone by, the things not done…I’m getting better at it, though, and easier on myself. Thank you for reading, and for your kind comments!

  1. what jumped out at me most from this: 10 siblings!!!!!!
    How I would have LOVED to have any siblings at all. I’m an only child, and always, always wished I’d had bros and sisters as a kid. Being an only child is kind of weird! But alas, it’s one of those things you have no control over and I feel blessed I got to experience some of what I missed by creating a great childhood for my own three kids. I enjoy every second of THEIR siblinghood and in a strange way they’ve included me in it by sharing so much with me even as adults. 🙂
    So yes, you are so right…you’ve got an INCREDIBLE amount of blessings but the best blessing of all is that you recognize them! Too many people give the negative center stage in their lives and sideline the good. You are NOT one of them, which is why I enjoy your blog so much!
    Happy Birthday!

    • Oh, you know, Karen, my Mom was an only child. She always talked about the loneliness, the sense of having to handle everything alone, the solitude. She chose to have a big family for those exact reasons. As a child, I hated it most of the time, being the loner that I am…but I sure appreciate it now, for a million different reasons. Thank you for reading, and for your kind and generous comments!

      • oh that is SO interesting about your mother! I think being an only child really affected my choice of career which was staying at home and raising kids.
        Your mother was spot on about feeling like you have to handle everything alone. It becomes so in-grained it’s near impossible to ask for help even when you desperately need it That’s prob the one hold-over from childhood I’ve worked hardest to overcome!

  2. …and a partridge in a pear tree. So many blessings! It’s nice to be grateful for all we’re blessed with. Thanks for setting such a good example, and congratulations on being so blessed. Hope your birthday was a happy one.

    • It was a fine day, Sara, thank you. Nothing out of the ordinary, just work, then home. I celebrated with family and friends when they were here, and I’ve had a dinner out with a good friend, have another planned for this week with my aunt and a couple cousins…it’s like having a birthday month! Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

  3. You inspire me, Cindy — I may try to come up with my own list on my birthday! Thank you for sharing your list, and yourself with us!

  4. Love this idea, Cindy! Next year I’ll be 52. Aging–I remember being a kid and thinking I couldn’t imagine what it would be like when the year 2000 arrived–I would be SO old! LOL Happy birthday, dear Cindy!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I remember that, too…in fact, in my group, conversations often centered around whether we would even be alive…at that terribly old age of 48, when the year 2000 rolled in! Thank you for reading, and for the birthday wishes!

    • Thank you so much, Marylin! It’s a good birthday exercise, I think, to balance out the list of failures, losses and grievances that so often get attention as I mark the years. Thanks for reading, and for your kindness!

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