July 1, 2012. WTF?

Kage Baker was one year and 20 days older than me. (Which is funny, because I am one year and 20 days older than my sister Kimberly …). This meant that for 20 days each year, Kage was technically 2 years older than I was, instead of just 1.

I used to tease her about it, especially as the years went by and we both became ladies of a certain age. She would snarl amiably about it. When my birthday came around three weeks after hers, she would triumphantly remind me the universe was now back in balance and she was not either two years older than me!

She was 57 when she died, two years ago: 5 months shy of her 58th birthday. So that first year, I caught up to her: I hit 57.  Last birthday, I passed her and reversed the age gap to 1 year. And this year, I have become in my turn 2 years older than Kage.

I’m 59 today. But my now being decidedly the elder won’t have a convenient end; things won’t revert to normal after a comfortable few weeks of teasing. Forever after now, and for the first time, I’ve turned a corner in the road where Kage did not precede me; I’m seeing a road she never knew.

There is nothing like having your elders die to suddenly bring The End into focus. The crowd of people between you and your own personal termination point begins to thin; your parents, your siblings, your friends – ultimately, all those folks have danced the last waltz, gone to sit along the wall and watch, and you are alone on the floor in the dark spotlight. You are the eldest of your line, and how the heck did that happen?

It gives one quite the frisson, if not the outright collywobbles. Still, somehow, Kage and I had always figured that we’d step out together. Probably in a bizarre accident involving tomatoes and rum and several flaming explosions. And we planned to enjoy some old age first.

Ah, such plans we had! Getting old was an inevitability we had finally admitted, somewhere around 55, but we planned to become a hilarious pair of old ladies. The sort who wear Converses and hoodies, and carry sword-canes. Saying outrageous things and speaking one’s mind had gotten much easier – after a certain point, it seems the social brake pads just wear out. If we ever ended up with blue hair, it was going to be because we dyed it bright electric blue.

Mind you, none of those things is ruled out now. Not even the bits with the tomatoes and explosions … but it really wouldn’t be as much fun.

Nonetheless, I keep walking. One of the enduring things Kage taught me was to enjoy the road while you’re on it, because who can say if you will ever see it again? And look for new roads all the time, too. She did. Literally. And when we’d take a turn we never had before, or set out to some utterly new destination – she’d settle herself happily in her seat and exclaim: “New road! God, I love a new road! Drive, Rasputin!*”

And I would. And I do.

* from Bewitched. Endora’s chauffeur.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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13 Responses to July 1, 2012. WTF?

  1. Brad Campbell says:

    Well, I wish you as happy a birthday as possible…You know SHE would want today to be a gala…Perhaps with a rum drink with a small umbrella.


    • Kate says:

      Oh, I am having a splendid birthday! Kimberly is very, very good at Festive-ness. As I sit here, I am looking out my porch door where my very own midnight blue reflecting garden globe is shining in the sun … and tonight we shall dine in spleandour at The Tam O’Shanter, one of the oldest, coziest, most wonderful restaurants in LA. Specialites: prime rib, chocolate souffles, single malt Scotch and Bass Ale! Which is pretty much what I intend to have …

      Kathleen kbco.wordpress.com


  2. Chris Springhorn says:

    Tam O’Shanter, mmmmmmmm. Where the bartenders don’t have to consult a guide to prepare and Old Fashion’.


  3. Kate says:

    Chris – Nor a Singapore Sling, nor a Planters Punch, nor a Sidecar … and they know what you mean when you ask for a pint. I can no longer make my way through a half-yard, though. Age creeps up on us all. In my twenties, I could get through two or three and somehow survive!


  4. Elaine says:

    Happy Birthday. I hope the day is being kind to you. And enjoy that prime rib. Sounds delicious.


  5. mizkizzle says:

    Happy birthday! There’s nothing like old-time cocktails to mark a festive occasion. A Horse’s Neck perhaps?
    There really should be a drink called a Tunguska Event.


    • Kate says:

      A Tunguska Event would have to knock you flat with no marks on you. It would have to be something you chugged, I think – one long blast and then you’re laid out on the floor.


      • johnbrownson says:

        I’ve smoked a few things that affected me like that, but so far nothing I’ve imbibed has brought me to such a state. Still looking for the Pangalactic Gargleblaster. Happy Birthday, Mother, and many, many more!


  6. Lynn says:

    Happy Birthday, Kathleen and many, many returns. I would expect more than one rum punch and a rainbow of umbrellas. AND prime rib! Kage and I were of an age – 10 days apart. I’ve actually been thinking of electric blue hair once my hair turns completely grey; it’s only half way there so far.


  7. Margaret says:

    Happy birthday! Keep on keeping’ on, with an eye out for new roads.


  8. catharine says:

    Happy birthday! funny you should mention blue hair, I was just today considering going Lucile Ball red. And let me know if you find a fine purveyor of sword canes…


  9. Tom B. says:

    Happy Birthday Plus 1! And onward, into the Greater Mysteries . . .


  10. Kate says:

    Tom – the existence of Greater Mysteries is one of the things that keep me going!


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