“The seventieth birthday! It is the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and have stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach-unrebuked. You can tell the world how you got there.” Mark Twain
Good afternoon family and friends, I am privileged to be here today to celebrate with you my seventieth birthday. Today is a day I will remember fondly if health allows me to, for seventy is a good long time to live- I should know! In addition, it is truly something to celebrate. In the presence of everyone, my husband Alexander, my sons Alexandre and Vito, my daughters Thea-Simone and Mikaela, my 13 grandchildren and my three great grandchildren. I can proudly say, you are the reason I live today.
Who I am today is a product of my earlier socialization, my experiences and my ambitions. I may be described as an introvert, as you all know; I am quiet by temperament and flourishes in my own company and space, until I met my husband. Alexander and I met when we were in high school, we were friends first, however; a few years later the friendship has grown into something more. We both got accepted into a four year college where my major was psychology and his was biology. I graduated with our bachelor’s degree and then moved on to graduate school at Harvard University to further advance my studies to doctorate’s degree. In the latter part of graduate school I found out that, we were going to have a baby. Above all things I worried about being a good mother to our baby. I looked forward to its birth amidst the support of friends and family. Understandably, I became alarmed when my doctor spoke about his concern about the hike in my blood pressure. He cautioned me about the dangers of high blood pressure levels especially during pregnancy. I immediately changed my diet as per recommendation and did a critical self-reflection in my quest to de-stress and restore my blood pressure to normal. It was indeed a scary time for me when my blood pressure seemed beyond control and I had to be hospitalized for treatment in the latter trimester of my pregnancy. At this point, the doctor has decided it best that I await the birth of my baby within the hospital walls, luckily, it was almost time. Looking back now, I am amazed that I found the strength to take the next step. When my daughter was born, I was devastated to learn to that, she had but a fifty-fifty chance of surviving as a direct result of the dangerously high blood pressure levels during labor. She stayed with us for a couple hours before she passed on, leaving behind devastation in her wake.
I was at a low place in all faucets of my life during this time. I was crippled by grief and felt as if I had come to the end of my journey. I could not help feeling that this was a personal blow to me by God. I wondered how he could have allowed something so drastic and final to happen to me. I wondered if I was being punished for some terrible wrong that I had done. I had to dig deep inside of me to hold onto my faith in God and find the strength to pick up the pieces of my life. I was encouraged to mourn my baby by not living in denial and resume University as soon as I was able, as staying at home for an extended period as was previously planned would hinder the healing process. I conceded and returned to school hoping to fill the vacuum that the baby’s death had left inside of my soul. Had it not been for the wonderful people who entered my life and embraced me as one of their own, my coping skills would have been non-existent. Together they created a very strong support system and constantly encouraged me to hold on to my dreams and aspirations, remaining focused and surmounting each obstacle as they arose. The future was unpredictable in its entirety but I tried to remain focused and continue...