Mondays with Mom: Ninety


Mom turns ninety this week. I’ve been thinking about the number and even did some research of things associated with ninety. A right angle is 90 degrees. As a compass direction, ninety corresponds to east. It’s considered by mathematicians to be “a ‘perfect unitary number,’ that is an integer which is the sum of its positive proper unitary divisors (excluding itself)” which means very little to me since I cannot understand any more than basic math.

I know a few precious souls who have made it to age ninety and beyond. They truly are kind, special people, and I wonder if, contrary to the Billy Joel song “Only the Good Die Young,” only the good live long. I’ve known a few snarly nonagenarians (that’s someone who is 90 or more), but as a general rule, those in their nineties have truly mellowed with age.

I know that is true with Mom and especially with Dad, who is currently only 88. Even before the dementia overtook her, Mom had become less rigid and confrontational as she aged. I attributed a lot of it to having grandchildren and enjoying retirement and travel. They both softened and unwound – at least that’s my perception as the last child to leave home.

According to the Clinic for Aging Research and Education in Laguna Woods, California, nonagenarians are the fastest growing age group. They study the “oldest-old” to determine what habits lead to quantity and quality of life. Thanks to medical advances and health awareness, as a society, we’re living longer. I have a dear friend who has become very health aware because she’s committed to being part of the “triple-digit” club. She and her husband are preparing to live to one hundred.

If I could guarantee a sound body and sound mind (which I’m not certain I always possess right now!), I might like to live that long. I love the idea of seeing my potential grandchildren have children. I love the thought of seeing my children grow and develop into middle adulthood. I love the idea of trading stories and making memories with my husband and friends for many years in the future.

As I look around the rest of this world, however, I’m ready to retreat and go to my forever home. I long for the day when there are no more tears, no more sorrows. I’m excited for Mom to be whole and well. As I have ruminated on this number ninety, I’ve wondered if there is a significance to the compass direction east. In the Bible, east is a popular direction. Wise men came from the East to search for baby Jesus. The temple and the tabernacle both faced east. According to prophecy, the Messiah is to come from the East. The source of light for a new day comes from the east. Perhaps at 90, we look east forward into a future bright with promise for the believer.

That’s what I’d like to see for Mom in her ninetieth year, a bright future full of light for a new day, looking east to a future home. That would indeed make for a happy birthday!

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