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To adapt from a well known source, all I needed to know about life, was to be found at a 1st Birthday Party.

It would be fair to say that I have been a slow learner in the classroom of life. My teacher in my second year of school wrote a prophetic comment in my 1960 report card. For many years I thought it was written by a teacher who didn’t know me. I mean, I always did well at school. I was wrong about her of course. She had me pretty well pinned, even then.

The comment: “A bit slow, because he doesn’t always listen”, was as true then as it is now.
I must have slept through many of the lessons life offered. Others I must have skipped entirely.
A bit slow, because I wasted a lot of time on repeated and fruitless attempts at scaling particularly promising peaks of pointlessness. Ah well. No doubt I am not alone in that. What’s done is done, as my Grandmother used to say. At least, at this late stage, some of the light bulbs have started to glow. Well done! I can hear the polite clapping from here.

I attended a 1st birthday party last Sunday. As a result, some thoughts are rebounding like shiny mental pinballs. Ones like:
Hey, aren’t older people supposed to be wise? How did I get this far and have so little wisdom to share? How did I get to this age so quickly anyway?

Who knows? Who cares? Getting to your sixties is dead easy. Just start with your first birthday, and then have all the others until you turn 60. When you get there you will look around with surprise and wonder how it happened. You will also, if you are like me, look inside yourself. You will pick through the narrative of your life, maybe grieve at some things and exult at others, and hope you have been more of a blessing than a burden. So much for wisdom.

You can learn a lot being part of a 1st birthday party. On Sunday, Sue’s granddaughter turned 1!
Great Grandma, Great aunt and aunt were there. So was another Grandpa along with more aunts and an uncle. Great Grandma not quite sure who was who or what was happening but absolutely delighted by the children crawling on the floor or steadying themselves before taking a few wobbly steps. I suspect she wasn’t sure just which one was her great granddaughter, but I hope it didn’t matter to her as no one else minded if she did or didn’t know. She was just as much an integral part of the proceedings as anyone.

There were the proud parents, unable to contain their joy. Mother bringing her daughter downstairs to show off in her pretty new dress. Father balancing daughter on his knee as she ripped at gift wrapping.

There was Sue, flitting about with plates of food, beaming at her granddaughter, unable to stop telling anyone who would listen how special she (the granddaughter) was.

There were the other parents and their young children, from playgroup and workplace, all with smiles, and all there to celebrate friendship, family, children, love and life.

And of course I was hovering around taking photos. So back to those shiny mental pinballs. They have labels on them:

Family.
Love.
Vulnerability.
Interconnectedness.
Giving.
Wonder.

Somehow, that list crystallises the little I have learned about what really counts.

Somewhere in that list are the treasures of life.

Sometime, when I understand it all I will write a book about it.

Someday.

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Great Grandma, Grandma Sue, Mother and Daughter.

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