Please read this first paragraph while humming the Bee Gees song “Tragedy” in your head.
On December 16th I will turn 57 years old. As I face this new birthday I can’t help but notice the changes in the celebration of it. Well meaning people who used to send me funny, sexy or silly birthday cards now send me deeply religious birthday greetings that waiver very close to the line of a sympathy card. Evidently, when you reach a certain age you should start thinking more about the hereafter than having a kick ass celebration. A friend, whom I adore, is taking me to a special lunch “if you’re up to it” that I believe may be more of a “Last Supper.” Others have begun to ask me what I intend to do after retirement. Don’t get me wrong. I adore these people and I’m so grateful that they love me and remember me on my special day, but it is a bit premature to be speaking of me in the past tense in hushed tones. At this point I halfway expect to be taken to a room where I will be shown gorgeous nature movies and disposed of only to be turned into little green wafers to feed the masses like in the film, Soilent Green.
When did this morose view of our more mature years take root? Where is it written that I have to live my life for someone else or according to the views of a society who thinks it’s time for me to just hunker down and quietly fade off into the sunset. I’m not Mother Teresa or a cowboy. I’m me and this is my journey. I’ve just begun! Like me for it, hate me for it or think I’m insane, but I ain’t stopping for anyone. I have too much to do.
As I was growing up in my small Virginia town I was full of dreams I wanted to attain. The most important to me, to be a writer. I had written for my own enjoyment all of my life and systematically stored the pages on a closet shelf. I was a married woman with children and worked as a secretary and was told by my elders that it was time to put away childish things. The stories on the shelf were thrown away. The dream of writing along with others were stifled. But they never died.
When I reached the age of 49 I made the life altering decision to pursue my dreams. I had raised two wonderful daughters to adulthood, had two amazing granddaughters and was no longer shackled (I mean married.) Now I have nothing against marriage and I think it is wonderful when it works, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. So what was next?
I realized that it was time to go get those dreams. It didn’t matter how old I was or how uninformed. How green. God gives us one life and he expects us to live it to the fullest. We all have dreams. It’s just a matter of going after them. They aren’t going to come to you. You have to be willing to sacrifice, work and go get them. With my oldest daughter, Christa, who is an actor, I did just that. We moved to Los Angeles where she is involved in a busy acting career and I am a playwright, producer and screen writer. I have created, write and produce a comedy webseries called, “Dixiewood” which is loosely based on Christa’s and my life as country people learning to cope with Los Angeles and am currently researching to write a biographical film on actor, Micheal Dunn. I have also written the play, My Husband Is My Sister-In-Law, which was up for an NAACP Theatre Award and is facing the possibility of becoming a film.
I continue to pursue the dreams. I have learned that not only do they never go away, but that they are still attainable. This holds true for everyone. When I was 12 years old, I was the biggest “Monkees” fan in the world. I never missed a show or an album. Their photos were pasted all over my room. I dreamed of being in California and seeing them in concert. My daddy started saving money to take us to Los Angeles on vacation to try to help me attain that dream, but he was critically ill and it was never to be. Daddy passed away at 51. 45 years later, this past July that dream came true for me when my daughter took me to The Greek, a beautiful open air theatre here in Los Angeles, to see “The Monkees” in concert. For those two fabulous hours I was not a 56 year old with teenaged granddaughters. I was that 12 year old girl living her dream. At one point in the concert I looked up to the sky which was so gorgeous and whispered, “Daddy, will you just look where I am. We made it.” So standing there, holding hands with my adult child, both of us with tears running down our face at the magic of it all, I knew that dreams do come true. One off the bucket list.
Today, after I finish talking with you, I will go and begin writing a script for a new episode of my webseries, Dixiewood. A feat I tend to equate to labor and delivery. It’s hard work. We finance everything ourselves and continue to work 40 hour a week jobs as well to finance our dreams. For now. Hopefully the day will come when that won’t be necessary. We continue to struggle and feel our way through the tough maze that is the entertainment industry and thank God continue to make headway. I have a list of projects and dreams to attain a mile long ahead of me. I have mistakes to make, joys to experience and things to learn. I am not done until I say I’m done. Or God says it.
Yes. I’ll be 57 on December 16, but inside I am still that young girl. True my body may be like a battered old suede suitcase and my face may have more lines than a map of Venezuela, but I am the same young girl with the same dreams. So when you wish me Happy Birthday, celebrate a life in progress not a life in decline.