By Tammy Culhane
When I first contemplated turning 40 … only a few years ago … my immediate thought was “Oh oh my goodness, I’m getting so very old. “ I was convinced my best course of action for this milestone event was to just go to bed the night before (perhaps a little intoxicated) and wake up two days later. That way I would totally miss getting old and could just carry on with my life. It sounded pretty logical to me.
As it started creeping up, I thought twice about this plan. I had been telling people that I was turning 40 and once they recovered from the shock (NO ONE EVER guesses my age right), they started telling me 40 is not that bad. In fact, today, in a store, I was told 40 is the new 20. I then started thinking if that is indeed true, maybe, just maybe, that was cause for a celebration. I thought I could rent the party room downstairs in my building and have a pretty awesome party!
Then, much to my surprise, something was sprung on me (as a total surprise) and it completely changed the way I viewed how I will be welcoming this new chapter in my life. My mom told me that we were going to try to get tickets to Calgary to see my family and to celebrate my cousin’s marriage! I couldn’t believe it! Tears of happiness and joy took over! I was, and still am, very excited! My excitement grew tenfold when I put it all together. OH MY GOD! I’M GOING ON A PLANE! MY FIRST FLIGHT! What a cool way to start my birthday celebration! (I say start, because our trip is a week and a bit before my actual birthday.)
Just when I thought things were shaping up pretty well for this very special birthday, another amazing opportunity came my way! My friend and I began to investigate going to Toronto for a weekend! I have wanted to go to a Blue Jays game for quite some time now. Once we found a deal through VIA Rail and made arrangements with my dear friend who lives in Toronto, I knew this was turning into another fabulous way to welcome the new decade of my life!
Planning both of these amazing trips has been quite the experience in itself. I have the usual trip list/worries to figure out, such as what to pack. I also have a completely different list with which to contend. What will I use for a mobility aid while in Calgary? Will the person flying with me (my mom) be eligible for a ticket discount? Will my electric chair fit on the train? Where are the most accessible hotels in Toronto?
Sometimes I get anxious and develop a huge headache just thinking about everything. I’d be a complete fool and liar if I didn’t mention the fact that, yes, I have seriously contemplated whether this is all worth it. Although I joke about getting older, there’s another reality ahead of me. As I age, my disability gets a little more evident. Things I could do with ease before take more time; more body parts are having spasms.
Then I say to myself, “ You know what? IT IS ALL WORTH IT!” I have a golden opportunity to see my family and meet our newest family member! I will FINALLY get to celebrate a birthday with a very dear friend. (We’ve been talking about getting together for my birthday for years!) Sure, by the end of these two trips I might be exhausted and possibly broke but hey; I will have several memories that will last me a lifetime! To me, that is priceless!
So, with a week left until I leave for Calgary, I sit here so very excited for the many awesome adventures that lie ahead for me in July. I’ve now realized that turning the big 4-0 is not the dreadful thing I first thought it would be. I’m going to embrace this new time in my life and celebrate it to the fullest!