Our age in years is less a real measure of development than it is an arbitrary appreciation for round and/or culturaly significant numbers. Teens? Fractions of a century? Marking the decades? "Middle" age—whatever that means? Sure.
But 80…well, that's a long, full life. And I'm super fortunate that my grandmother (mom's mom) celebrates 80 years on earth today. Most of my family calls her "Jammie" (courtesy of my youngest brother when he was a bambino), and this spectacular woman is one of the best people I know.
I spent what feels like half of my childhood at her home by the Jersey Shore. I never realized until I was significantly older how much that time was a shield from the turmoil of my parents' divorce, and a point of access to resources and activities we otherwise couldn't afford. Time spent at Jammie's house was time basking in familial warmth – a warmth that spread through her descendents, an animated, humorous warmth that is one of the hallmarks of my maternal family. For 8 years she taught me to play the piano and instilled a love of music and learning that I carry to this day.
I'm also fortunate that my grandma is in reasonably good health at this age. She's been able to welcome many great grandchildren into the family, and it's conceivable that she could live to be a great-great grandmother, depending on whether/when my oldest nephew has any kids of his own. I smile thinking about the impact and influence she's had on her own expanding family and the countless students and parents she taught and interacted with back in New Jersey before she retired.
Happy Birthday, Jammie. I can't wait to treat you to a nice meal on Saturday.