Let's set the stage for my 45th birthday. Tighe was a Freshman in college. Jeremy was in 9th grade, and Benjamin was in 5th grade. I came home from work to find all three boys in the kitchen together, fixing dinner. (Yes, all three are really good cooks, although Jeremy, as a chef, is magnificent in the kitchen.)
As I walked in, the first thing I noticed was a huge bouquet of flowers on the kitchen counter. They had signed their Dad's name to it, and he could have gotten credit for it, too, if he hadn't later come in and asked who had sent me the flowers. These are great kids. I had suspected the flowers were from them anyway.
The boys stopped cooking long enough to pass me around for hugs. They were all taller than I was, even then. Tighe got me last, and after a big hug he held me at arm's length.
"Happy birthday, Mom. How old are you today, anyway?"
"45," I said. I never have lied about my age. It seems I've just been comfortable to be whatever I am, and each year seems to get better anyway. I wouldn't go back to being a teenager for any amount of money, beauty, or anything else. Not a chance.
"Well, here's to the next 45!" Tighe said. Then he seemed to think about it. "That would make you 90!" he said, somehow horrified at the thought. "Would you even want to be 90?"
I didn't even have to think about that one. "I don't care how old I get, as long as I go at the same time as my brain."
Tighe pulled me back into his arms for a particularly tender hug. Over my shoulder he said to his brothers in a stage whisper, "Prepare yourselves, boys, she's fixing to leave us."