My 50th Birthday
For some reason, I’ve always associated the age of 50 with images from the 1950’s. Mostly, I see my grandfather, who died when I was only two, in a black and white photograph, holding me in his arms. He is wearing glasses, black plastic across the top and wire on the bottom, and although he’s wearing a baseball style cap, it’s obvious that he has a buzz cut. He looks old-fashioned, but not necessarily old, although the two are sometimes hard to differentiate in these old black and white photographs. I think he must have been 50 in that photo. I’ll be 50 on Friday.
How do I feel about turning 50? Well, I guess I feel luckier than anyone younger, because they might not make it this far, and to be alive is luckier than we can ever imagine. So, in that, I refuse to wish away any of the years (or days or hours or minutes) I’ve existed by denying my age. Why would I? That’s tempting fate, kind of like parking in a disabled parking spot. Although, now that I think about it, I must admit I have no problem with taking mommy/child spots. I wonder what that means?
My life at this point is pretty damn wonderful and I feel like the future is full of promise. I adore my family and friends and I think I’ve been blessed with a sunny outlook and that really impacts how I see the world and how I feel on a daily basis. It’s interesting how quickly time flies now, and yet when I look back 20 years, it all seems so very long ago. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, but I think I would have said that 10 years ago, too. It’s rather like how I felt about my children when they were growing up. When they were babies, I often thought to myself, while marveling at their flawless skin or stroking their silken hair, “Now, this is the best time,” but then the next stage would come along and I’d think, “No, this is the best stage,” and so on.
At this age, I think more about what I have now and how precious it all is, but I also worry more about loss. I do mourn sometimes the innocence of youth, how we thought things would never change and time would always creep along so slowly, which ironically, at the time, was often frustrating. The hardest part of getting older is realizing the finiteness of life and being afraid of the changes that are inevitable and wondering how I’ll handle some of these changes. Still, understanding the finiteness of life has allowed me to make some pretty big decisions that changed my world for the better. Life is like that, I find. There’s always a flip side and more than one way to see things.
Life is singularly precious and the older we get the more we realize this by loving what we have with such intensity, yet also intensely fearing its demise. I guess that is what you call bittersweet. But right now, today, it’s more sweet than bitter, so I’ll take that and run like the wind. Happy birthday to me.