Here I am, out the other side – I’m fifty now.

My birthday came and went on the 14th, and I had mixed feelings about it.  I think some of my friends and family interpreted my reluctance to have a birthday as a reluctance to turn fifty… wondering if I minded the age, didn’t like getting older… something like that. It wasn’t that at all – I don’t mind  a bit. So far, my experience is that being thirty was better than being twenty, that being forty was better than being thirty, and I expect that fifty is going to be pretty good too. (Exception noted for some of my body parts, which I rather suspect enjoyed the earlier phases more. I’m talking to you, left knee. Get it together.)

When Tupper died five years ago – five years ago yesterday, to be precise, Mum didn’t want to celebrate her birthday anymore. It was like she didn’t have enough happy in her for celebrations, and she said that if he couldn’t have any more birthdays, she didn’t want one either.  At the time, her choice upset me. It upset all of us, I think. It was plain to me that something had changed in my Mum with Tupp’s death. I worried that she was never, ever going to be as happy as she had been before- that his death had been too hard, too traumatic, too shocking and too sad.  To be entirely frank, I worried she was a tiny bit broken, just in the happiness department.  Not wanting to celebrate birthdays was a symptom of that, and it made me sad too. Mum didn’t survive her brother by long enough for me to know if that was really true.  She remained my funny Mum, my essentially happy Mum, with a little bruised piece that hadn’t had time to heal, if it was going to.

When Mum died, after Tupper, and before Susan, I thought about my birthday and I got it. All of a sudden I got the whole thing. If they couldn’t come to my party I didn’t want a party. If I couldn’t blow out candles with Mum I didn’t want candles. After Mum, it was totally and completely clear to me why she wanted to cancel birthdays after Tupp and I decided to do the same, and felt such a clear understanding of my mother in that moment.

As time went on, and we got closer and closer to My Birthday (close enough that I started thinking of it with capital letters) I started thinking about it more, and I remembered how I felt as her child, seeing my Mum so sad. I remembered worrying about her and wishing she would let us celebrate her.  “But you’re still here… ” I would think, every time she said that Tupper was not, and that parties were cancelled for the indefinite future.  I especially thought about it every time that one of my daughters mentioned a party to me, and I remembered in the hospital, shortly before Susan’s death, her having a bit of a cry, and telling me that she was so sorry that the person who cared most about me turning 50 was gone.  She talked about my mum’s plan for that day, how much my mother would regret not being there… she said she was sorry that she couldn’t make up for Mum, but that she thought she wasn’t going to make it either.  She was right about that, of course, but she was wrong about people not caring. My girls, I realized, as I thought about it, were feeling as I had. I suddenly saw it in their gentleness with me, their new tenderness, their careful questions and sweet little attentions.

I was scaring them. They thought I might be broken too. The pain I had felt watching my mother grieve I now saw in them, and I resolved immediately to show them to that my ability to be happy wasn’t gone… or at least not permanently.  That I had a chance to reassure them here – and as hard as it was, I said yes, to it all.

Family dinner on my birthday? Yes. Big party on the weekend? Yes.

I cried often and mostly alone (I try to be polite) over those few days. At times, I missed my mother in a way that was physically painful – but I took deep breaths. I bought a new dress. (I shopped for it with my girls via text/photo group, and that was really fun.)  I put on a pair of my Mum’s shoes (god she had great shoes) and I went to the parties and I smiled at my girls and I am so pleased to report that they were right, and for the first time in history possibly, taking my Mum’s advice would have been wrong, because man, as painful as it was, there were moments of sweetness and happiness that I’d have been so foolish to miss. The girls were so good, and they worked so hard, and I was so impressed with them, and I think my girls see that I’m not broken, just different, and that’s okay, and that maybe I can put some faith in that too.

I’m fifty.


(PS. I’ll do the first big round of Karmic Balancing gifts this weekend, see previous post, and thanks for everything, you’re awesome.)

147 thoughts on “Fifty

    • Ditto what Rams said!

      And I know what you mean about the thirties being better than the twenties, now that I’m here. Prove to the world that 50 is better than 40, too!

  1. Sometimes we do things for others and find out how much they help ourselves.

    I was laid off two days after my 50th birthday and yeah we sort of downplayed that one. You can do that every once in a while, just not all the time. It is not fair to you.

  2. Happy 50th! I turned 70 on the 19th. For me, it was a time of reflection – no parties or celebrations. That evening I decided I was going to retire. Waiting for my boss to get back from vacation and I’m giving him my notice. Time for a new chapter in life.

  3. Thank you for putting your emotions into words for us. You explain yourself so well. As a 43 year old with 74 year old parents, I know what is coming and I hope I deal with my loss with the same grace that you have.

  4. After your year, you are turning the corner; life will go on with a lot of old and new memories. Happy birthday, Stephanie.

  5. That was an amazing read and brought me to tears, happy birthday, I am so glad you enjoyed it. I love watching/reading your journey through life x

  6. As it is, life goes on and we have to be here for the ones we love that are still here. Those who need us and care for us. We can’t abandon them in sadness or try to live in yesterday and pine away for “how it used to be”. Change is a part of life. You Step, will be, God willing, 60 one day. Your grandbaby will grow up before your eyes. Your right knee will join your left in complete rebellion. (I know this because it is happening to me) and good times, better than the ones in past days will come your way. Glad you did not abandon your girls. Glad you let them love you. Grief can isolate, shut off and imprison you if you let it. I found this all out… 50. I am 61 now and better for the experience.

  7. So glad you realized the importance of celebrating to those around you, and went ahead with the parties. Your Mum would have been proud, I think. And I’m fairly certain the Blog is as well. Happy Belated Birthday and best wishes for a fantastic year.

  8. I just love how your family does celebrations. I’ve always felt lacking in this, and I feel badly about that because celebrations are important. For everyone. The build up memories, commitment, gratitude and love. So it’s great that you found the strength and the grace to let this celebration happen. Happy fifties!

  9. Happy Birthday! I miss my knitter mother in that same primal way. Soon to be four years and the pain is still sometimes intense. It does get better, though, with time.

  10. “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

    ― Julian of Norwich
    And the same will be true for you.

  11. Happy Birthday!

    Great job realizing we have to be brave for our children, even when they are all grown up.

    The mother/daughter relationship is so special, we wish we could keep umpteen generations of mothers and daughters together all at the same time, but it’s actually like a relay race, and we have to pass the Matriarch baton when our turn comes.

    You are lucky to have loved ones close, and you all have wonderful memories of those who have passed on. Your mother lives in all of you.

  12. Oh Stephanie. Reading this filled me with such joy. It sounds like you gave your daughters a wonderful gift of love, and got an amazing gift of love in return. Happy Fifty, and so many more happy birthdays to come.

  13. Wow! So much of your story hit home and opened my eyes. Sometimes it is just SO HARD to always be the grownup! But it is so much easier if we are lucky enough to have people around us that love us and, yes…. need us. Thank you for this post and Happy Happy 50th! May we all celebrate the love around us as we grow older (and maybe just a little bit wiser).

  14. Happy Birthday, Stephanie! I’m glad it turned out to have been the right thing. 🙂 Hugs and love and best wishes! I’m glad you were brave for your family, they love you so much. And you love them so much. Yayyyy!

  15. Happy Birthday Stephanie! Fifty is nifty as they say- or do they? I am glad you could find it in yourself to celebrate your milestone. These celebrations make memories and what would life be like without making memories?

  16. You are gorgeous! And your dress is gorgeous too and not just because it’s Hawaiian. Things just keep getting better except for those pesky knees.

  17. Happy 50! I’m sixty, today, in fact. I lost my mom at 22, when she was 50. What’s weird is to be older than your own mom got to be, knowing how young you still feel inside. For me, the 50’s had a lot of suckiness to them, so I’m hoping the 60’s will be better. I have a new grandson now, so chances are good!

  18. Happy Birthday, Steph,
    Bravo for the party and breaking through your resistance. It was an excuse for everyone to celebrate you!

    Great photos, lovely dress, and you look fabulous!

    Arnica helps with the knees.

  19. Stephanie, thank you for going ahead of me and lighting the path for me to get down.
    I’ve mentioned that my own mom passed in November.
    Then my husband walked out in February and I haven’t been able to properly focus on grieving my mom.
    But reading your posts about your process has been like being carried down a path that I can’t walk down on my own.
    Thank you so much for bringing me with you.
    My first birthday without my mom around will be my 40th. I was never really daunted by turning forty until sometime in February. I am CLINGING to the idea that it will be better than thirty.

    • My mom died in 1999. I crashed in April of 2000. I got therapy for the grief, and a bunch of other post issues. I celebrated my divorce the day before I turned 50. And determined that it was the beginning of the 2nd half of my life. I am now 62, married again to a wonderful man. Things get better, time changes perspectives and understanding creates wisdom.
      Happy birthday, may you celebrate many more.

  20. This is an amazingly beautiful story! I just recently turned 60. I had a wonderful celebration with friends and family. As active as I am the body starts to have issues. The knee one day, the ankle another. But I’m grateful for my health. Especially my mind. My sister died of early onset Alzheimers 2-1/2 years ago. It was a huge loss. I’m still getting over it. So as much as I don’t like my body starting to fail, the “middle age middle” that I despise and have never had before, I’m grateful for my mind and for friends and family. We should celebrate these milestones and I’m glad you did that. Happy 50th Stephanie

  21. Happy belated! Thank you for sharing your life story with all of us . So glad you were able to gather with family and friends. Life’s journey continues.

  22. You are so strong, and such an amazing mom. Your mom is watching with love and pride. Your girls are learning that strength. I am in awe.

  23. You don’t look a day over 40! Plus, you’re in great physical shape (with the exception of your knee, you say); so svelte. (Try Australian Dream cream on your knee; it helps a lot.)

    You can miss and mourn your mum at the same time as loving others by allowing them to celebrate you and show their love for you. It was a good decision you made. Your mother would have wanted you to be happy.

  24. Happy birthday! I hope the coming year has you enjoying the present and looking forward to joys still to come – more babies? another book? (I’m really ready for a book!)

  25. Happy birthday! I’m glad you decided to celebrate after all, and I’m sure your girls and the rest of your family were glad you let them celebrate you!

  26. I have never posted to you before, but have been reading for years. I turn 61 tomorrow. For your birthday I give you the advice that one of my older sisters gave me:
    At 30, a woman knows what she wants.
    At 40, she knows what she needs.
    At 50, she knows how and where to get it.
    At 60, she knows what to do with it.
    After that, it’s all a miracle.
    Blessings Be.

  27. Stephanie, I’ve been reading the blog since before you turned 40, and I just want to thank you for sharing your life and knitting and family with us. I wish you many happy returns to your birthday.

  28. Happy birthday! Well done!
    I am 52, I hate fifties and my birthday was a big problem for me but since my father died I promised myself to celebrate life, to honoured all the happiness he and my mother gave us. He used to say with much joy “no hay nada mas lindo que las fiestas en casa” (traduction: nothing more beatiful than celebrating at home). Make a wish, blow candles, eat a delicious cake and smile as much as you can with tears in your eyes to remember the ones we loved and made as so happy. Keep celebrating!

  29. Happy 50th Birthday! I completely understand needing to let you children celebrate you. I’m not big on parties or attention but I let my kids throw me a big 50th birthday bash last August. I had some guidelines such as bbq at our house and no birthday song or candles but it did turn out to be lovely. They didn’t want the milestone to go unnoticed and letting them do it was hard but it was a good day. (((Hugs))) to you!

  30. So very happy for you!!!

    Happy Birthday!

    Looks like it was a lovely sharing and happy celebration.

    Love and Hugs to you and your family.

  31. What a wonderful path of joy you took. Fifty. That’s waaaay behind me now, but that day was extra special and every birthday since because on that day one of the women engineers in my group at work had her little girl. Julia has been a shining light ever since. She is now 28 years young. I never knew if it was special to her, too, until I turned 75 and she 25. We had breakfast with her Mom and as we were leaving the restaurant she said to me, “You realize that today WE are 100.” Finding joy. Isn’t that the sweetest gift we can give our children/family? Happy Birthday!

  32. Happy Fiftieth! It was really self-less of you to look at things from your girls’ perspective and to go through with the celebrations despite your own feelings. I’m sure it eased their worry tremendously. Also, great job on your dress; you are rocking it!

  33. I took a tour of the Desert Botanical Gardens in Arizona, and one of the amazing things I learned was that Saguaro cacti don’t get their first branching arm till they are 50 years old. So when you see ones with many branches, they are actually the most mature. Lesson….branch out at 50, girlfriend!

  34. Congratulations, Steph! Happy 50th just past! The fifties are great. The decade I disliked was my sixties because it was my first decade without sharing my birthday with my Mum as I was born on her 40th birthday! Seventies are meh! We will just have to see where they go LOL Hope all is well and that 50 will be a great year. You have a fantastic extended family! ❤️❤️

  35. I should know better than to try to read your posts these days without a tissue. Your openness and willingness to show the raw edge of your journey through your grief has been intensely and unexpectedly cathartic. Thank you for that. Happy birthday, and may you celebrate many more in joy.

  36. First, hard to believe it’s been 5 years since Tupper’s death, I swear it seems like you were just here. Secondly, I’m a huge celebrator of birthdays, absolutely love them, but 50 was different and I hadn’t really thought about the why of it til just now reading your post. Instead of a party all I wanted was a quiet dinner with the hubby, my folks, and a couple of good friends. I was blessed to still have the parents, but the downhill slide had started with mom’s Alzheimer’s and the papa’s health. We lost him 3 months later and you know the story of mom. (Who is still hanging in there but we’re getting close.) Looking back, I wish I’d taken your route and let the parents throw the big ol’ party they wanted, hindsight 20/20 and all that, but at least now I understand my reluctance and it’s ok. Thanks for writing this, Steph, and I’m really, really glad you went with the celebration. (And I get to touch the balloons, I swear your blog is downright eerie at times.)

  37. Happy birthday again! I celebrated 50 by running a half-marathon, then going to Maryland Sheep & Wool.

    We have two basic choices in life. We can celebrate the life we are given…or we can stand with one foot in the grave grieving for what we have lost. Not that we don’t all have periods of grief…but we need to face forward and enjoy each day we are given. We need to LIVE.

  38. Happy official birthday greeting to you, from your Exact Birthday Twin! I will note that it is also my left knee that shows signs of being the first body part voted off the island. I have written a song about it — if we ever meet in person, I will sing it to you (“O, Crunchy Knee”).

    I am so happy that you let the people you love celebrate you. It looks like a beautiful party, and more Elliott photos are always a plus!

  39. Firstly, Happy Birthday!

    I just lost my own mother three weeks ago. I’ve been following your journey and take heart that life does go on and there is happiness to be found amongst the grief. Thank you for sharing your story with the world.

  40. Happy 50th Steph! Fifty was not as hard as 60. I was weepy for days because mom asked how I got to be so old. Well, I’m not dead yet, right? So that’s a positive spin!
    At 62, I tell people, I look good for 62 though I’ve got to say that the hair is a mess and I don’t think many of the parts work. But hey, it’s a compromise.
    Everytime you see your beautiful Grandbaby…know that the celebrations are for others…not just you. And have another slice of cake…it’s wonderful!

  41. Take any opportunity for a happy family gathering. There are ones that by definition are unhappy, so don’t forgo the happy ones.

    Happy birthday!

  42. Well done, Stephanie! I chuckled as I read that you wore your mum’s shoes. She would have liked that you didn’t wear your Blundies! 🙂 I found fifty was fine, sixty was fine too, and seventy has passed and it was just fine as well! Attitude and health see to it, dear YH. I share your birth date, so I always think of you then. I love that your girls are so kind and perceptive, and having wee Elliot to love makes everything worthwhile I hope! Best wishes belatedly!
    p.s. we are still celebrating my birthday, tomorrow with some of the Toronto kids, and Tuesday with the other Torontonian family! Happy happy!

  43. Oh, Stephanie, this hit me so hard. My husband is in end-stage COPD and has lost his ability to see reason. He often looks and talks like himself but the years of lack of oxygen have taken a toll on his brain cells. This week I am making the wrenching decision that, for my own sanity and safety, he needs to be in a nursing home. He won’t agree, he won’t understand, and he’ll be searingly angry at me but for my own peace I have to do it. COPD has robbed me of my husband and marriage over the last 10 years and I have reached my breaking point. I don’t know why I’m laying this on you and The Blog but I feel the need for a whack of knitters at my back while I face this. Thanks for listening, all.

    • You are a courageous and loving woman, doing what is best for all concerned. You have a whack of people at your back. Strength for the journey.

    • Sending prayers to you and your husband – you’re doing what is right and necessary for his and your health and wellbeing. I wish you two much peace in the midst of what is hard, painful but right.

    • Like being on an airplane during an emergency, you have to take care of yourself before you can safely help others. You are doing the right thing but it is a hard thing to do. Good luck and good grace. Sometimes life is different than planned but things work out. The film, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel said it best – things work out in the end, if things are not working out it is not the end yet.

    • Stand firm and do what you know to be best. Take a deep breath and GO! We don’t know you personally but we love you anyway and send all the strength your way that we possibly can!

    • It it really hard to do but you can visit as much as you want and recover with space as much as you want too. Watching my grandma go through moving my grandad into a home I saw how hard it was. He didn’t understand and he was obstinate and it was upsetting. But then I started to see my grandma recover. Even in days after she already started to look more well. Now she has a sparkle back, projects underway and a very healthy opinion back in full force.

      Remember you matter too. Your health matters. Your mental well-being and social contact matter. You can do it. It will be worth it.

  44. Happy Birthday! The fifties were good and the sixties are shaping up to be a good decade as well (except for some of the body parts, but, oh well). Even with the losses, still have loved ones to make my day, especially my girls and their little humans.

  45. Thank you for sharing your birthday with us, The Blog. The good, the bad, the ugly – it’s all part of life and you relate it all wonderfully. Thanks.

  46. I was 49 when my mother died, then had my birthday and 8 weeks later my dad died. It was now 10 days before Christmas. My father adored xmas and always made it a Big Deal. It was a very difficult year but I tried to keep our holiday loving. It was the hardest day of my life so far. Trying to make happy memories for others while devastated inside was so hard.
    That was 31 years ago and I have grandchildren that never knew my parents. They are young enough that the concept that I had parents is a bit vague for them. I’m three years shy of the age my parents were when they died. (There must be a math word problem in there somewhere). Family gatherings are to celebrate love and relationships and a time to immerse ourselves in belonging. We remember those who are gone, but we pass on the love we were given.

  47. Dear Stephanie, I was so moved by your words. By the fact that who and what we are is composed of our experiences, and our relationships, that when we choose a path for ourselves that differs from that of our parents we bring them forward with us, a path that is only possible due to,the choices the made before us,…that the depth of our thinking and analysis in response to them is both their gift to us and their legacy.
    You have offered me a perspective on my present relationship with my parents (as they enter their late 80’s and refuse to plan for and accept theiri inevitable decline and physical and mental limitations)-as part of a continuum, that they are not wrong or failing us and themselves, but contributing valuably to the choices I will make living the rest of my life, which will in turn alter the courses of my children’s lives….ad infinitum. I can not express how much I needed this this week.
    I am sorry for your losses, and joyful for you that you found such a heart-warming path forward.

    Or, perhaps it is just a birthday

  48. What your mom would want most of all is for you to live your life as fully and richly as you can and to be happy.
    It is what every mother wants for her child.
    Congratulations on reaching 50. I hope it is your best decade ever.

  49. Congratulations! You did the right thing — letting The Ladies and the rest of the bunch help you through. By wearing her shoes, you made your mum a part of it all. (And if she had been there, in those shoes, I’m sure she would have danced the night away!)

    As for that knee…it better behave itself! You’ve got a grandson in monster pants to catch!

  50. Sending belated birthday wishes for an amazing person who unfailingly puts others first – even for your day. No doubt in my mind that Mum and Tupper and Susan were there to celebrate you on your days.

    I can’t help but weep as I read this, and I’ve not been able to cry for a very long time; perhaps there’s still hope for me yet. May this be the start of a wonderful year for you that celebrates all that was and all that is yet to be… happy birthday.

  51. Happy birthday a bit late! I’m so glad you allowed your family to celebrate you and were able to find joy in it. After the past year or so you deserve to have fun and happiness in your life. I’m sure it gave your family a. Lot of joy to give you a party, so you gave them a lovely gift! Enjoy being 50! There’s so much to enjoy and be thankful for even if there’s a few more creaks and groans!

  52. Its my right knee – I feel your pain, literally! On another note…when you do something that makes others happy, you get happy out of it too. I know others have said it better, and you’re a pretty selfless person anyway – especially right now with the ride – but Bravo for stepping up and making your birthday special for your family and friends. 50 is good. 64 (I’m a Beatles song!) is even better.

  53. Not broken just different, and that’s OK. Just what I need to hear right now. Feeling such solidarity with you.

  54. Lovely! All of it.
    As a daughter, I thank you for loving and trusting yours.
    Welcome to my side (ok, i’ve been over here for awhile!) of 50!

  55. Yes, I am broken since losing the precious granddaughter who was born on my birthday and named after me took her own life at age 15. I spend that day with my daughter every year and we do not talk about another birthday or another year. I am glad you have found a way out.

  56. You have – AGAIN – so perfectly spoken how I’ve felt. (When we lost my MIL, our world ended because the glue that held my husband’s family together was simply gone.) Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Good on you for choosing the brighter path. May it shine for you for another fifty!

  57. Oh Stephanie, you captured it all. My mom died last year three weeks before my 50th birthday (and three days after her 82nd birthday). My dad and I still took our already planned week’s vacation on Lake Superior even though it no longer felt like a celebration. This year as we mark one year without Mom, we will be train-trekking through the Canadian Rockies. We will be together, and we know Mom would have liked, or rather, EXPECTED that.

    Thank you for sharing your grief journey. Know that it has helped me get through my own.

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  59. Happy Birthday! I turned 50 this week and spent the day relaxing because the number was hard to face this year.
    Glad you had celebrations. Sometimes we need to allow others to love us.

  60. everytime i think “oh, this is her best post EVER” (and i’ve read them all) you prove me wrong. this. this is the best post EVER. thank you for sharing the rawness, and the vulnerability, and the love. that’s so courageous, and inspirational. i’m so happy that your birthday turned out so well. thank you for sharing it with “the blog”. cheers to 50! and i hope your left knee knocks it off. much love Stephanie, and happy birthday.

  61. Ah Stephanie, good for you for celebrating. Every day of life is a gift and some days (and gifts) are better than others. I will turn 60 this fall and it’s as if it has caught me unaware. Wow, I want to celebrate this time. Much love to you and yours!

  62. Happy Birthday! And thanks for sharing your wonderful family photos and your story. It really reminds me of the big picture.

  63. Happy Happy Birthday, Steph, in spite of it all and in honor of all of the ones gone before. helluva party wherever they are, you betcha. and yes, my little part of The Blog most definitely approves and salutes you. As you always do when you bravely share the sad along with the joy, you have helped so many others, too. much love to you and the entire rambunctious, loving, musical clan on both sides of the bridge. xo.

  64. Happy Half-Century, Stef! Rest assured (from one who just recently celebrated 70 turns around the sun) it does indeed get better. More wisdom, more knowledge, more room in your life to savor the beauty, more gratitude. So glad your girls are already wise enough to see you as you are, and wishing you continued wonders every single day and all your years.

  65. Enjoy every birthday. Those that don’t have them any longer would really enjoy having them, so you should enjoy them, even when missing others. My cousin was 55 when her life was cut short. I will enjoy EVERY birthday I can because she loved life, loved me, loved a party, loved family. It’s okay to be sad for a time, but rejoice in the love that you were a part of and carry on. Happy Birthday Stephanie.

  66. HappyBirthday, hope this year will be better, and please continue sharing your wonderful writing with your many fans for many years to come!

  67. Yay for you and 50! Thank you for sharing. Thank you to the family and friends who made it all happen! I’ve been waiting for the guest blog entry which usually comes on your birthday. Maybe next year?

  68. I’m late to the party, but Happy Birthday! I’m so glad you decided to celebrate.

    A few years ago I had to spend a spring and summer dealing with breast cancer (actually, even after one is finished, you are always and forever dealing with this). From that point on, I decided to a) be honest about my age and b) celebrate my life – and the joys it brings. I think I understand what you were feeling, but I’m glad you let your family and friends celebrate YOU!

  69. gosh darn it, Steph, you’re awesome. I’m turning 51 in two days and was busy pretending it wasn’t happening. Thanks for always speaking the words in my heart so well. Happy Birthday. And many, many more.

  70. I’m 55 now and I keep telling people that I haven’t yet recovered from turning 50. I suspect that’s because it’s a new low. How lucky you are to have all that family! It’s a joy to read this post.

  71. This brought tears to my eyes, because I know how difficult it is to continue celebrating when you’ve lost a loved one. For the sake of your loved ones, I’m so glad you were able to take this step forward. The grief never goes away, but it can lose its centre stage positioning over time. Happy 50th!!

  72. Last year I decided I was going to celebrate my 60th birthday instead of continuing to try and hide the years. My niece Jessica threw me a wonderful party! She invited family and friends, found a great space for a party, and chose a wonderful menu–complete with my favorite cupcakes. I had a great time!

    Happy 50th to you! I’m so glad you chose to celebrate with family and friends! Here’s to many more birthday parties!

  73. Happy half-century! Wow. Good for you for being strong enough, and trusting your clan enough, to let in some joy and special moments for your birthday. And thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  74. Sometimes how you respond to life and capture it here for us to learn from too is so so amazingly deep and warm and generous. Thank you for being your wonderful self and for letting everyone celebrate you with you. Happy birthday and may the year to come be full of uplifting delights!

  75. Happy Birthday Steph! I can so relate to your feelings about partying. I didn’t celebrate my birthday for years whilst I was going through fertility treatment and then a miscarriage. I just didn’t feel that I had anything to celebrate. I know now that it really hurt the people who wanted to celebrate me and what I mean to them.

    What helped me was an article about a different way of understanding grief. It said that grief isn’t necessarily linear, ending with a neat resolution ‘everything is great again’ stage. But rather, that life grows (back) around your grief. That made sense to me and also let me see that I needed to let life in to make it grow.

  76. Stephanie, thank you so so much for your deep expression of how it feels exactly. You are helping everyone with your open words. Sure, I burst into tears alot when reading your posts, but it’s cathartic. Huge thanks from a former Torontonian for whom your writing makes the HUGEST difference.

  77. ps. I started knitting because of your blog and its hilarity and depth of caring. For two years I read the blog, then I started squishing yarn in the LYS, and now I’ve knit everyone I know a gorgeous garment. That’s also how you’ve helped. Huge hugs your way. Jen

  78. Happy Birthday! Some days I wonder if you feel a pull from your readers to share, share, share. Well, whether you do or don’t feel that, thank you for your honesty and generosity. Reading your writing makes me feel like, on my hardest days, I can feel what comes naturally and get through it (even if that second part is a little pokey). Thank you for sharing this beautiful, complicated moment.

  79. As so many before me have said, your example of doing for others helps me to see beyond the “I don’t need that for me.” Even the things that I would love to be about me (it’s my birthday) aren’t really about me. We, moms, lead by example. Thank you!

  80. As difficult and bittersweet as it is, each time you gather with your family and friends, you honour her memory. You wouldn’t be the woman you are, surrounded by family and friends who quite clearly think the world of you, if not for your mother’s guidance.
    Happy 50th!

  81. Happy Birthday! Thank you as always for sharing your insight. I am a few months from 50 myself and was going to bow out of the hoopla because of loss, but you are right. We can do hard things for those we love and be open to joy as well. Thanks again.

  82. Happy Nifty Fifty Stephanie! I just had mine in May. I think we are part of an elite club!

  83. Happy Fifty! It’s a great decade–you’re going to really enjoy it.

    Thank you for the looking back that thirty was better than twenty, etc–I kind of needed that myself, because I’ve only got six months left of my fifties. Soon I will be a child of the 60s. Again.

  84. You make me cry, Stephanie, with your honesty about your mother, and how brave you are to share it all. I’m sure it’s catharsis for you, too, to write about it, but it’s wonderful to read. Thank you for writing, and a very happy birthday.

  85. My mum died a few months before I was 60. I’d told her that I wanted to go visit England (my birth country) for my birthday, but we could both see I was going to have trouble financially maki g that happen. So, I took some of a small inheritance and went on that trip. And I know Mum smiled on me. And she was with me in spirit. Happy birthday, Steph, and May you celebrate many more.

  86. Thanks–I needed this. You put into words how I have often felt over the last 3+ years since my son died. It took me a few days to read this.
    Happy belated birthday and Happy Canada day from a Canadian born Wisconsin resident.

  87. Well done! We seem to get wisdom from our “elders” one way or another – either as what to do, or what NOT to do…

  88. Happy Happy (very belated) Birthday Steph!! You are going to love 50, and I am sooo glad you had a party and a big celebration! Take it from personal experience – eventually, you will be able to have these big family events and milestones, and you’ll laugh and share with each other how much your mum would have loved it and all the funny things she would have said and done. She will always be with you!

  89. First thing that came to mind when I saw the title was the Saturday Night Live skit about a woman who tries out for the Rockettes and keeps hollering “And I’m FIFTY”. (Google “SNL I’m Fifty”, if you’re curious.)

    Happy Half-Century, Stephanie!

    I turned double-nickels on the 29th (that’s 55). My parents died in 2006, when I was turning 43. My Dad died June 7th–22 days before my birthday, and my Mother actually FORGOT it was my birthday, then wondered why I was so gloomy after spending the day running errands for her and making her dinner, and not getting so much as an acknowledgement. I was under the impression that when she called me that day and said “why don’t you come down and visit me and maybe we can do something nice” that she was referring to my birthday but no. All she said was “Oh. It’s your birthday? I’m sorry, I guess I forgot”. (To be fair, there were “issues” with my Mother…)

    My 50th went by with barely a nod. (So did my 55th, for that matter.) No black balloons or Over The Hill statements. I was disappointed; I always imagined a huge family celebration with all the trimmings, maybe even a not-quite-so-secret surprise party. I’m very glad you had that, and decided to enjoy it.

    It makes sense, following a huge loss, not wanting to continue if they can’t be there. It hit home with me, that since they died, I’ve had no interest in holidays, no interest in taking vacations–where would I go, alone? What would I do? They aren’t here to travel with me (issues aside) and I have no one but the cats (who do not travel well). It’s as if life stopped on June 7th and September 30th and never really restarted.

    Maybe I’d better go get some jumper cables, eh? Because this is no way to live. May we all jump-start our journeys, get back on track, and enjoy OUR lives. Because it’s not about them or their being gone, it’s about LIVING. We need to go on. WE need to live.


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