On someone’s 90th birthday


Today my great-aunt turns 90 years old. She’s not very fond of having her photo taken lately (this one was taken last Christmas) and she’d be completely shocked if she knew that her photo was on the Internet, so it’s probably a good thing that she doesn’t have a computer, but how can I not share her picture with you on this very special day? Doesn’t she just look like the sweetest old lady? That’s because she is (!) and I really miss her.

I walk around with a heavy heart today knowing that I can’t see her and give her a big hug to let her know how much she means to me. (I did send flowers and a little love letter to her through Fleurop, though. I also sneaked out at work for a bit to talk to her on Skype. Thank goodness for modern technology!)

If you would ask her about her birthday, she would say to you that she never intended to reach this age and that it’s really no fun to grow that old, but she always keeps that twinkle in her eyes when she says it which makes me believe that she must be half-joking.
While I do believe that she has her daily obstacles (her vision and hearing is slowly getting worse, daily routines take her longer than she would have ever anticipated, she walks slowly and she needs help with cleaning and shopping), I think there is something to be said about someone who is 90 years old and still lives in her own apartment (on the third floor without an elevator, mind you!) and who is still pretty sharp in her mind.

My great-aunt has always been a very important part of our family, even more so since my (paternal) Grandma  – her sister – died when my sister and I were only 6 years old. Ever since then, my great-aunt has been like a grandma to us. She never had children of her own, which really is a shame, because I believe she would have been a great mother, but has always been very close with my dad and uncle and our family and she’s done so many wonderful things for all of us over the years. She is one of the kindest people I know and she’s always lead a very selfless life and always served others (most of all our family).

“Once you begin to acknowledge random acts of kindness
– both the ones you have received and the ones you have given –
you can no longer believe that what you do does not matter.”

― Dawna Markova

Sometimes I feel a little guilty for living so far away, for not being able to return all the love and kindness that she has continuously shown us over the years and that she still shows us today. She’s often frustrated with the fact that she needs our help and that she can’t really do any favors in return anymore, which is when I like to remind her that she’s given us so much and that it’s now our turn to give back to her. I am relieved to know that she’s so loved and well taken care of, because so many old people don’t have this kind of family support these days and are probably very lonely.

In the case of my great-aunt, I can only say that we love her dearly and are so very thankful for every additional year that she will hopefully be part of our lives!

  1. She looks like a very special and loving woman. Happy Birthday to your Great Aunt!!!

  2. Congratulations to your great-aunt!
    The picture of you both looks great!

  3. “…she would say to you that she never intended to reach this age and that it’s really no fun to grow that old, but she always keeps that twinkle in her eyes when she says it which makes me believe that she must be half-joking.”

    This just put a huge smile on my face, because it’s exactly what my granny always used to say. :)
    When she turned 90 she was as fit as a fiddle. Now with nearly 94 her state of health goes downhill rapidly. She still lives in her own flat, but my aunt (her daughter) has to do the shopping and cooking and also all the housework.
    Her short-term memory is bad, but she remembers EVERYTHING from her childhood, from the hard time during WW2 and so on. I love to listen to her stories / memories. And I am sooo proud of her for how she lived her life with all ups and many downs.
    My granny is a kind, warm-hearted and lovely person – just like your great-aunt.
    Happy Birthday to her! :)

  4. Happy (belated) Birthday to your great-aunt.
    Great picture of the two of you.

  5. Such a super sweet photo and how thoughtful of you to write about her! I bet she wouldn’t mind! Happy Thursday xxx

  6. What an awesome milestone to reach! Your great-aunt doesn’t look a day over 75 – really, she looks to be in amazing health! The women on my mom’s side of the family tend to live long, fruitful lives. One of her aunts lived to be 104 and had boyfriends up until the day she died! Another aunt lives by herself in Brooklyn, NY in a walk-up just like your great aunt. She has weekly appointments at the hair salon and on those days, makes sure to stop by Dunkin Donuts to see what the locals are up to. I’m not sure anyone really intends to live to be 90, but it sure is amazing when we have examples of people who are still enjoying life at that age!

  7. aw that picture is precious. happy belated 90th to your great aunt! :)

  8. That is an awesome picture! What a special person she is! It’s pretty amazing that she is 90 and still living on her own! My grandma will be 88 this year (I think?) and also still lives on her own. She looks great and is so nimble, it’s really quite impressive.

    It’s hard to be away from family around events like this, but I am glad you got a chance to skype with her!

  9. This is so sweet and I can just feel the love you have for her. Also, may I just add that she looks amazing for 90 years old! We should all hope to look that good (and be so kind) when we reach her age.

    Happy birthday to my birthday twin!

  10. That picture is fantastic and I love this tribute. I can’t imagine living to 90 and seeing the world change in so many different ways.

  11. This is such a great photo!

  12. Hast du mal Valentin angeguckt? Ich benutze Fleurop gar nicht mehr, aber vielleicht ist Fleurop jetzt ja billiger geworden…hmn…muss ich mal vergleichen. Ich benutzt nur noch Valentins und meine Mutter ist schwer begeistert.

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