After Handler arrived, I started to forget to celebrate birthdays. We remembered our son’s birthday–we spent all our time raising him, it would be hard to forget. But we did not remember our own.The year that Handler started school, Xander wanted to gather a large circle of friends and party the way he used to before our son was born. He needed a break from fatherhood. I bought a cake and we honored the day Xander came into this world.I put a random number of candles on the cake, and I invited myriad guests. The collected crowd was filled with a reveling spirit. The festive event was a huge success.Blaring, thumping music awoke me the next day. I thought maybe Handler had learned how to turn on Xander’s boombox. When I entered the room where the stereo was, I discovered an old man in a dancing frenzy.Baby: “What are you doing in my house?”
He continued his manic movements without seeing me. Deafness, I assumed and raised my voice.
Xander: “Baby, what are you talking about?”
Xander: “I had a birthday and I got older, that’s all.”
Xander: “Eventually we all get old. It is a fact of life.”I felt a wave of nausea pass over me. I knew it was a terrible reaction, and I didn’t want to hurt Xander’s feelings any more than I had. Xander followed me into the bathroom.
Xander: “Does this mean what I think it means?”Xander knew best. I was pregnant again. We had another son, Dodger and he was an absolute joy. But I always had a sense of dread hovering over me. I could not raise these two boys without my husband and I feared Xander would die.I invited Lorcus Notorious over. I wanted to consult with him and get his expert medical opinion. I wanted to know exactly how much longer Xander would be alive.Lorcus: “I can’t predict another person’s lifespan.”
Baby: “But why must Xander have to grow old and die?”Lorcus: “Why does the sun rise in the morning and cross over the sky?”Lorcus: “Why does the moon rise in the evening? Where does the time go? These are the mysteries of the Simiverse. We must each learn to accept our fate.”Lorcus: “What I can tell you is that Xander is in excellent health. Try not to worry so much.”
But I did worry.Each night, I looked in on my boys as they lay sleeping. I wondered what we would do if we were left alone. I could resume my duties at the Science Lab to support the household.But what strange person would be in my house, raising my boys? They both had inherited my wicked nature, it would be difficult to find someone who would tolerate their naughtiness.Child-rearing was a much smoother experience the second time around, but Xander still did the majority of the parenting. Dodger could sometimes exhibit a sweet side and Xander was good at coaxing it out of him.Xander taught Handler chess and he excelled at the game. First he was a formidable opponent then he became unbeatable. I wished Pater would visit us and challenge my son with his master strategy, as he had done with me.Xander continued his life as if nothing had changed. He still did the things he loved. He was offered retirement but he chose not to quit. Instead he remained in his role with the Notorious Crew.He even learned new hobbies. Xander bought an electric guitar and practiced often. Soon he was able to strum along to his favorite music.I began to notice the others aging as well. Grand Notorious stopped by to see us and I realized his hair had turned pure white.Junior Notorious visited us from Twinbrook and we rallied around him for his birthday. Not long after he returned to the house, and he was older than Xander!Once these men were so tough with their criminal schemes. Their brawn was replaced with grayness. Their illicit deeds were replaced with Magic Gnubb.The biggest shock was the day I spotted a little girl at the pool.
Baby: “Are you lost? Are your parents here?”
Sandi: “My name is Sandi French and my mommy is over there.”I turned and saw an unfamiliar figure walking towards me. When she got closer, I recognized it to be Molly French. Her beauty and youth had completely faded.I climbed into the pool and watched the mother and child. Someday I could be mistaken for Dodger’s grandmother. I also will grow old. Then I will cease to exist. These were sobering thoughts. I decided I would continue to ignore my birthdays and forget about aging.Even as Handler aged into a teen, I deluded myself into thinking that I was ageless.Even as I worked out relentlessly, my body became weaker and slower.Everyday my youngest son steadily increased his ability to walk and talk and everyday my husband succumbed to more wrinkles and gray hair.Just as my husband predicted, I eventually got old. Just as Lorcus suggested, I would accept my fate. And as I embraced my future as an elder, I saw that the important thing was to cherish every minute I had left with the ones that I loved.