I love having a birthday in September…and having it right smack in the middle of the month, with a good solid odd number takes the birthday cake. It’s a great month for reflections and new goals because ever since I started going to school at 4, September has signified the time of year when summer holiday ends, I’d commenced to the next grade level, a whole unknown lot of knowledge is waiting to be taught and learned, and usually in September, I hadn’t messed up my new slate. Paper, pens, teacher, friends, everything was new…or renewed. And so was the wardrobe, if I was lucky.
My father, also a September child, celebrates on the first. He took his birthday pretty seriously too, and if there was a major upheaval in life (a move, a new job, a significant shave) it was most likely to happen on that day. This is how I grew up. September (or one’s birthday) is a time of jumping toward a change…at the very least, reflection.
So I approach my birthday as my “new year.” I’m either nine months behind or three ahead. I keep forgetting how old I am though, so I guess I’m reaching the older side. Ah, yes, closer to the day I can rest on my laurels, right? I’ve heard that 40 is the old age of youth and 50 is the youth of old age. So at 44 (I think that’s right) I’m smack in the bookbinding.
I’m saying it out-loud (well, typing it out-loud): THIS IS THE YEAR I CHOOSE TO BE AN ADULT.
About time, right? Well, if I live to 88, I have only 44 years to act as a grown-up. It could be worse…I could have been intensely responsible since I was a teenager, and where is the fun in that?
No, its not that bad. But since I’ve been spending so much time with the handicapped and elderly, I look at life (actually, I look at death) differently than before. I know they all see us as a young family, which we are in comparison, but I often think of these people as my peers. They are certainly peers to Vernon. So yeah, I see life and aging differently than I used to.
So today, to mark my birthday, to celebrate growing up, guess what I did?
I bought life insurance!
I KNOW! Brilliant, right? It’s my self-appointed rite of passage. I will also say that was the most boring part of the day— kept telling the agent I was late to meet my friend Maila for coffee, and I needed him to hurry up, already!
The truth is, Vernon and I had never bothered. We were always in transition. He was getting his Masters, I was dealing with Immigration, then one of us was supporting the other through a variety of jobs, then Maki came, then Justine, then we moved to America, then we moved house, office….blah blah! We were ALWAYS struggling, never settled. It seemed like we were just getting grounded at last (making money, saving a little, we had exciting prospects, my parents could watch the kids if necessary) when the accident happened. I don’t think we imagined anything would happen to either of us, not yet. There would be plenty of future time to think about things like life insurance. Applying for health insurance in California was complicated enough.
Another admission is that after Vernon’s accident, I went INSURANCE MAD. I got roadside assistance, I spiked my auto insurance up as high as I could. The other driver only had the necessary minimum, so as my driving increased, I began to see myself as statistical threat to someone else, I wanted to make sure I could help my potential victim’s family out with his astronomical medical bills. Who cares about the car parts?
I really only have two major assets in my life that I need to protect: Maki and Justine. They are my priority, honestly more than Vernon is. Vernon feels more like a job now…a job I totally love. But I get to come home at the end of the day and normal life begins. Maybe being an adult really doesn’t have to do with age, but with ones ability to actively care more for others. In my case: I’m lucky enough to have a family to take care of. I don’t have a choice, but it helps me know my secure-ish place in the chaos better. As much as people like to complain about lack of freedom, I don’t think there is anything more stabilizing than healthily caring for others. It’s a Super Vitamin to a fulfilling lifestyle.
So there: that’s my take on life insurance. I won’t bring it up again.
But my goal is not to die and leave something to my kids. It is to live! And one thing I probably can’t express here is how grateful I am to those who have given financially to our family and Vernon’s recovery. It’s true: we lost our living income when Vernon was injured. But God provided through people’s generosity (my siblings and parents cover my rent every month…I know! It’s a humbling but marvelous thing: I am truly blessed.)
What happens when a person receives so much from others? One can’t help but become a more giving person. I want that to be the effect on me. I know I have been changed by this, so my goal in this next half of my life is to become a more generous person. I want to bless others the way others have blessed me. It’s only a small drop, but I also wanted to mark today by giving. As I’ve been captivated by the outpouring of grassroots hospitality to help soften the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Europe (and here?) I started researching various charities. If you are interested in giving to this cause, I did find out that if you donate to Mercy Corps , Travelocity will match every dollar. I love how love multiplies.
The best part of the day though? A RAINSTORM from Heaven. I don’t think it has ever rained on my birthday before! (Well, most likely in England…but never HERE!) As we got soaked (despite large umbrella) on our walk across the freeway pedestrian bridge this morning, Justine exclaimed: “I feel like I am going to school in England. Let’s pretend its my first day. Oh dear, I’m so nervous!”
Everyone knows we’ve been in a drought. It’s a big deal to get rain. This is so exciting. If this is my birthday gift (along with all the other Sept 15-ers) I’m sharing it with the whole region. See how generous I am already?
It was a good day, with rain at the top and life insurance at the bottom. I saw a few friends, exercised, had dinner with my family, and went shopping. I even tried on perfumes, imagining Vernon would have bought me one if he was able (he used to get them for me in Duty Free..never knew I would miss that.) It was a wonderful day.
Being an adult is great so far.