"Today is my sister Eileen's 70th birthday (In the photo with me during a break in Jersey a number of years ago). Turning 70 is a major milestone in anyone's life. It is joyous for some and emotionally challenging for others. Turning seventy today in my view is a reason to definitely celebrate, as it means you survived 'the' 60s and you survived 'your' sixties.
Eileen has three daughters who have provided her and husband John with numerous grandchildren and a constantly empty biscuit barrel. Her loving grandchildren come with an abundance of happiness along with a surfeit of noise and pester power, especially as her daughter Susan lives next door to her. Eileen loves nothing better than childminding her grandchildren and seems to have been born for the role of 'grandmother'.
As your older brother, Eileen, here is a bit of advice for a Septuagenarian sister. It may sound strange, but being 70 years old now, you have to keep moving to keep moving! It is a waste of energy and is of no earthly use feeling sad about your age. The one consolation is that it won't change again until next year and remember, nobody is too old as to think they cannot live another year!
Having been born in the Chinese Year of the Rooster, it is not surprising that you have much to crow about. First, there is your looks, which never seem to change from year to year and which adds credence to the saying,'Those whom the gods love, grow ever young.'
There are many things that I admire about you, Eileen; some large and some small, yet all significant. I have always admired the way that you have been able to distinguish the important from the unimportant and separate each out among your actions. I admire how you never forget the birthdays of others or refuse to recall those things that are best left forgotten. You have always been tactful in your mild reproach of others; displaying the ability of making a point without making an enemy.
Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones like birthdays which end in zeros. The real milestones of life are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced and like stray dogs, they amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave.
I was a thirty-month-old child with a one-year-old sister sharing my cot when you first came into my life unannounced, Eileen. I'd had a little nap with my sister Mary by my side and when I awoke, I found another bundle of trouble beside me fighting for space. In fact, because mum was to have seven children and only two bedrooms separated us and our parents during our childhood years, I was obliged to share my bed with you and Mary until I was nine! Today, this would certainly be grounds for being taken into Care of the Local Authorities.
Have a lovely birthday, Eileen. I love you lots. In my life you have been a good sister to me and a constant source of good advice and comfort whenever needed. Indeed, there have been times when you have been kinder to me than to your husband John, with whom you have shared fifty years of married life. You have been a sister to the heart, a friend to the spirit and a golden thread to the meaning of family life. Your older brother Billy xxx" William Forde: June 19th, 2015.