I never lie about my age or my weight. I weigh 165 pounds (give or take a few, depending on my level of emotional eating), and I was born on Dec. 20, 1969.
Forty-seven has loomed large in my mind for the past several years. It is the age my mother was when she died. They say that a woman sees her mother most often in her own hands. I have found this to be true. I am surprised how often I catch glimpses of her mannerisms when I’m cooking, helping my children, or talking animatedly.
They also say that most women cannot picture themselves beyond the age their mother was when she died. Because mom passed away so young, this has been especially troubling. The 19 years since her death have gone by swiftly, and yet so much has taken place during that time.
Forty-six has been good to me. I’ve pursued dreams, traveled to exotic locations, met fascinating people, loved passionately, and become true to my authentic self. I weigh 10 pounds more than I did on my last birthday, but now that I am living life instead of enduring it, the weight doesn’t matter as much as it once did.
But in spite of these things, I still found myself this past weekend, hunkered under a pile of blankets, tissues in hand, twice emptied wine glass on the coffee table, crying over 70s sitcoms and memories of childhood days gone by. To complete the picture of my self-pity party, you must also know that wafting from the kitchen was the aroma of a half-pan of brownies baking in the oven. I ate too much batter to make a full pan.
Things weren’t much better this morning. I dragged myself into the bitter cold to take the kids to school, upsized my Starbucks order, and became lost in thought while driving home. It was then that an old friend texted an early birthday message:
“Wishing you a year of peace and serenity. Happy 47th!”
The last time I was this low on my birthday was the year I turned 16. It was my final day at the school I had attended from third grade. My family was moving over Christmas break, and the last day of classes happened to fall on my birthday. Our chapel service concluded with one more song from the choir I had been part of for seven years, and then we were free to go.
Most of the kids left the old chapel building with a whoop and a holler, but I walked to the doors slowly, letting my heart and mind absorb the beautiful old place one more time. I was surprised to see my friend Elise standing in the back, waiting for me. She had graduated in May of that year, but came back to campus that day bearing a birthday gift.
Her gift to me was more than the dainty porcelain hurricane lamps with little pink tea lights. She gave me the gift of hope and strength. Hope that I would not be forgotten by the friends I had grown to love, and strength to walk out of that chapel building and into an unknown future.
Thirty-one years later, with a simple text, she did it again. Peace and serenity are what I spent years seeking, and this past year I finally found them. I don’t need to be afraid of 47. My mother, God rest her soul, wouldn’t want me to be afraid either. I will redeem the number that has loomed large in my mind for so long, and when I look back, I will say it was one of the best years of my life. All I need in order to walk into the unknown, is the peace and serenity that I have already claimed, and the knowledge that friends are walking with me.

Ginger Lumpkin is an author, motivational speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Facebook, find her on the web: www.gingeretta.com, or contact ginger.columnist@gmail.com.