My 80th Birthday Party

This piece is a fictional story with fictional characters. It is the story I imagined when making the photo of this elderly man in a park.

That was not a common sight, at least to me. There were all family members around the living room, looking happy, healthy and relaxed. I looked attentively at each one of them. Old and new came to the party. Those I grew up with, like cousins or siblings, some friends for life, and more importantly, those I have put in this world.

They gathered to celebrate my life and gave testimonies of my legacy; praising my qualities and the value I brought to the world, and to their lives. I can’t deny that it was an inspiring and fulfilling moment, even if in my heart I felt fake; doubting if I had ever deserved this moment.

I wish my wife had been here today. She would have enjoyed these moments more than I do. I miss her in strange ways. I miss her silent company, I miss our short and predictable conversations, I miss her affectionate attention, and even her dependency on my decisions just about on everything. I know it is ambiguous what I say, but I didn’t realize until recently, that we were not happy together.

She was the ever-present mother, but that didn’t mean that I had no influence on our kids upbringing. She left all the problems for me to handle, at the end of my working day, a role I accepted and now regret. They learned to attribute meaning to ‘father’, as the provider (who is absent because he must work), and the authoritarian (who is present, to punish those who didn’t comply to my rules).

Don’t think that she was a typical housewife of our times. She worked daily. Not because she had to, but mostly because she wanted.  She grew up as an orphan and learned very early on to make ends meet. Becoming a wife seemed like the realization of an old dream, the dream to belong to a family, where however, she made me became the father, the mother and the husband.

What a mistake to place so much trust on my abilities. I for one, had also been ‘family impaired’. I had both parents still alive, but remember only of a sweet and tough father, and keep a vague image of a cold and distant mother. I didn’t learn enough about parenting to improve my model of it.

I know she suffered with my absence at home, as well as for my equally absent and yet cold and rigid beliefs and behaviors. That affected not only hers but the mood and equilibrium of our entire family.

Today I heard though, on how proud they are of their father and of what I have achieved. They shared a beautiful narrative of my working life and contribution to society. I could hardly hold my tears, hearing of my conduct as a business person, and as role model, portrayed as the strongest contribution to their character building, for which they felt grateful and indebted.

My wife would have agreed with them. She was a generous, forgiving and loving woman, but I failed her. Even during her last years, whilst battling a heart disease, I dedicated no time to her. I worked and worked; the provider consciousness felt forgiven to arrange others to take care of her.

Watching our sons now, and appreciating what they have become, made me more proud of them than of myself. In spite of my absence, they became good and loving human beings, like their mother.

I made choices throughout my life, first as an eager, young man, and later as a determined and powerful adult. I married with work and dedicated my life to it, until work became my life and my only reason to live.

I could never comprehend whichever other form of life my wife asked me to build with her. I never tried it either. I had enough activities and no time to think of anything else.

Today, with regret, I tasted a belated happiness. I heard my life story being told in chapters, where I felt an indescribable longing for my wife and kids presence in it. They were there, but I didn’t let them bring their laughter, joy, and love.

Regardless, they are thanking me for all I have been for them.

Nothing can heal the pain that these memories bring to my heart. I cannot go back and time and start all over again.

I chose for company a mighty solitude.  Now I have to live with it.


This is an entry to WP Discover Challenge: Memory

I am also adding this post to Hugh’s Photo Challenge, as the weekly theme is Solitude.

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Sharing sights & insights captured with diverse angles. Ex-corporate, now my own boss. Cycling, hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photography, are no longer only hobbies listed on my resume. It's what I do when I want.

14 thoughts on “My 80th Birthday Party

  1. I don’t know whether it’s better to realise afterwards, or to catch snippets of it along the way and do nothing, Lucile. We make some poor choices sometimes. I enjoyed reading this.


  2. Oh, Lucile, this is so sad. I imagine the man in the photo from the front, sitting with his hands folded in his lap and he is just looking down at them–lost in thought.


    1. Lois, in my imagination, he wasn’t sad, but accepting his choices and the outcomes. However he was sad for the late realization that he made other people unhappy through his choices. It’s indeed sad.
      Thanks for commenting!


      1. Lucile, this is what I love about photography. Everyone offers a different story and that makes it so magical! And I do like your take on this better than mine! 😀


  3. I agree with both of the ladies above. This is beautifully written Lucile and such a good photo. I do so enjoy a melancholy story. I really feel for this man, seeing his life already gone by, almost too late.


  4. I feel sorry for this man. Maybe he should forgive himself a little because he was probably doing what he thought was the best thing to do. I hope he finds a little piece in the time he has left. Nice writing. 🙂


    1. Excellent point, Deborah. Very true. We all know better in retrospect but life happens differently and we’d better judge ourselves and others in a lighter way.
      Thank you so much for reading and for the lovely comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think, as humans, we all go through this moment at least once in our lives, Lucile. I know I often think that I should give people more time, especially my family. I recenlyt read a very good quote which said –

    “Don’t come and visit me and bring flowers when I am dead.
    Come and visit me and bring flowers while I am alive.”

    Those words really hit me.

    Thank you for linking this post to my weekly photo challenge.


    1. Fully agree, Hugh. It’s not necessarily age related, as some turning points in life can lead to similar reflections.
      This quote portrays the sentiment beautifully. Thanks for sharing it with me.
      And again, it’s always a pleasure to connect with you and link to your blog.
      Best wishes,

      Liked by 1 person

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