Let’s Talk About Turning the “Big 50”
Today, I am officially half a century old, and there has been absolutely no shortage of people reminding me of that fact. Just in case, I suppose, my brain capacity faltered to that of a 100-year old and it was not something I could remember on my own! But, all kidding aside, I am that old and for the life of me, cannot figure out how that happened!
Reflecting on turning 50, a memory of a return visit to my parents' home when I was around 23 years old comes to mind. I remember being in my parent's room, standing and talking to my mom while she applied make up. In disgust, she dropped whatever make up she was applying and stated, "I don't know why I bother. Make up doesn't look good on me anymore. When I look into the mirror, I just don't recognize the old bag looking back at me." Pointing to herself in the mirror, she said, "when I think of myself, I imagine myself being your age, that is how old I feel, but when I look in the mirror, well, that face tells a different story." "Someday, you will understand what I am talking about."
This morning while getting ready for a meeting, I was applying makeup and the conversation I just described went through my mind. I remember that day like it was yesterday, but it was 37 years ago. My mom was just slightly older than I am today. That day, I could not understand what she was talking about. I thought my mom was the most beautiful woman I had ever known and did not need any of the make up she was lamenting about. In fact, at 80, I still think she is pretty fabulous!
But specifically to the point, she was absolutely right, I do understand what she was talking about. Last week, our oldest son was home for the weekend and as he was leaving, he wished me a pre-happy birthday wish. But before he left, he asked me if I felt "half a century old?" Laughing, I said, call and ask me tomorrow. I've spent all day doing yard work and probably will not be able to straighten up!" But, truth told, I do not feel any different today than I did at 23, but when I look into the mirror, I can see the hands of time have done their job and stole my youth from me. I wonder, will he one day reflect on this conversation as I am now with my own mother?
Being the sweet man-child he is, he said he thought I was beautiful and didn't even look close to 50. I say, thank God, for kids!
But, honestly, I have hard-won the Big 50. I am its rightful owner. On the short list, I had some major negative factors that have fucked up my life and have tried to derail me. There were family issues that still haunt me to this day, I hated high school and find it funny that so many people correspond with me now, when I believed I had so few friends then. I have seen many good friends come and go. I had a terrible first marriage and have a blissful second marriage but our marriage has not been easy. We have been on the verge of financial ruin a few times, have been killed with medical expenses from which we have never seemed to rise above, blessed with three wonderful kiddos, one born with a terminal illness , who overcame those odds, to tragically die 11 years later. I suffered a mental breakdown of sorts due to that only to re-invent myself in a career that I hope lasts me the rest of my life.
So, let's talk about turning the Big 50! At 50, I am the sum of all my parts, both good and bad. I feel as good today as I did at 23, though I do not look entirely the same. In some ways I look a little better, others, not so much! But every line and wrinkle I have come honestly and hopefully, gracefully.