“Milestones (Latin: Miliarium) were originally stone obelisks – made from granite, marble, or whatever local stone was available – and later concrete posts. They were widely used by Roman Empire road builders and were an important part of any Roman road network: the distance travelled per day was only a few miles in some cases. Many Roman milestones only record the name of the reigning emperor without giving any place names or distances. The first Roman milestones appeared on the Appian Way.” Wikipedia</em>
When you spend as much time driving, on the road, as we do, mile markers matter; how much further have we to go and how far have we gone.
Lately, it seems like a lot of people, in our life, are arriving at significant milestones; mostly it has been nice to be a part of the momentous occasions, in the lives, of those we love. However, there are also a few of those milestones which are much more somber, though not less significant.
For one such person, who has arrived at a significant milestone, in life, I wrote a short paragraph of congratulations, in a private format, where the only people who could see the post were as tied to this person as I was. My only intention, with the post, was to congratulate this person on their achievement. I fully expected every member of the group to at the very least hit the Thumbs Up emoticon; at most perhaps say a few words of good wishes; after all it cost us all absolutely nothing to click on the Thumbs Up, or Like, or Heart icons. Why would anyone not want to say, hey good job!
Much to my surprise and disappointment, of the more than twenty people who have seen the post, only two made comments, and one of those comments was made by one of the five people that hit Like or Heart. Why is that? Why would you not want to wish this person well, if you are able to do so?
Yes, I will admit that my first rush of anger turned to the people who saw the post, and claim to be Christians, but I will leave them in God’s hands and instead grieve for us all, as I wonder why, as a society, we are choosing to be mean-spirited instead of kind, something I truly do not understand.
Why are we not happy for each other when something wonderful or even mildly nice happens? It seems like there is not just a lack of civility but we are being permeated by a true spirit of darkness, instead of light.
There are achievements, like learning how to ride a bike or swim, graduating from high school or getting a job, becoming engaged or earning your graduate degree, buying a new car or house, getting a clean bill of health or welcoming a baby into your family, or taking a dream vacation or being promoted, or winning a championship or losing those last ten pounds, or any of the other dozens upon dozens of things that we each put our heart, head, and back into, whether it is planting a garden, painting the house, or cooking a delicious dinner, that we should be congratulating each other on; after all who does not want to hear someone else say good job!
But more and more, it seems like milestones are simply walked right over; as if people got married or died every day.
As a society it matters that we stop to mark each other’s achievements and support one another in grief; these are the acts that make us human.
We should not live in a world where we cannot share our milestones with each other, because the forthcoming comments will not be kind and people will not be happy for good news or even understanding of heartache.
I often preach the glory of the Dollar Tree, though I always call it the Dollar Store. There is just so much to love about the Dollar Store, but I especially appreciate the wide selection of cards, some as low as two for a dollar! Think about it, for under a dollar you can tell someone Happy Birthday or Good Job on that Lawn! Or for the flat rate you are already paying you can call them, text, email, or congratulate them on social media. Though my favorite is always going to be in person, in person is not always available.
Last month, one of the most joyful milestones we were able to bear witness to, was Patri’s graduation from Dental School, excuse me, Doctor Patri. We were honored to watch this young woman walk across the stage to be hooded and congratulated by her professors, all who have a very good idea of the work, dedication, time, and yes money, required to reach that moment. It was, at the very least, a carrot cake moment; previously to Patri’s graduation, I had only made one carrot cake, since my Mother’s loss, it was after all her favorite cake, and the one we celebrated her milestones with; but Patri’s achievements seemed carrot cake worthy. We love Patri deeply and while I am sure we cannot match the pride and joy her parents feel at her achievement, I would like to think we are at least in their neighborhood; it mattered that moment be marked. And I am so very grateful that we were able to celebrate this joyful day – Congratulations Patty!
The other carrot cake I made, after my Mother’s milestone, was for Kate’s birthday, that first year. Now we are getting ready to celebrate another milestone for Kate, and yes there will be cake, but this year banana cake!
Kate spent the last week of May with her mother, in Cleveland; thus I decided I would take advantage of the time alone and put up the birthday decorations to help welcome her home, and do some wrapping.
I started by going through the plastic bin where I keep the gift bags; I needed to find the bags I use for Kate. Yes, there are bags for Kate, bags for me, and bags for my Mother, all stored together with bags for everyone else. As I went through looking for all of the Winnie the Pooh bags, I came across the bags that have a puppy on them, a dog that looks like our dog, Merry Margaret, who sadly passed away, shortly after Mother.
Since losing Merry, I have stopped using those gift bags, I took them out and debated whether enough time had now passed, and I could reuse the bags; I decided I could not, and put them away again. I did however, take out one of Mother’s bags, to use for Kate. I think it was a good choice.
I then turned to the box of decorations; again, yes, I keep the decorations and use them year after year. I do add to them, like last year, when we celebrated my great niece, and great nephew’s birthdays, at our house, I went out and bought pink unicorns, dinosaurs, and forest animals; but rarely do I discard anything. I may be overly sentimental or materialistic or whatever else one might say, but to me, the acquired treasures in my life speak to history, tradition, perseverance, survival, diligence, hard work, home, and love – all things worth celebrating!
The last birthday decoration is perhaps the most important, the birthday cake lights, which I bought at Target, in 1987, when I absolutely could not afford them; but a purchase I have never regretted. Once the birthday cake lights are on, it is time to celebrate!
I hope the milestones in your life this month are joyful and you have someone wish you well; if they are sorrowful, may you not grieve alone. But I also hope you are able to look around our world and acknowledge other’s milestones, even a strangers; after all we can all use a kind word. That is all for now.