Half a century

Thu, 02/28/2008 - 4:36pm
By: Rick Ryckeley

A milestone will be reached in just a few weeks, one I thought I’d never be around to see. In April, I’ll be 50. I have a greater respect for those over the half century mark. We’ve not only survived a long time, but we know a bunch of stuff.

It’s not just that we are well-read, but we’ve actually lived life to the fullest and have many experiences to share. Now if I could only get The Boy to listen to me, he just might learn something. Maybe that’ll happen before the next 50 years are up. I am, if nothing else, an eternal optimist.

Being 50, you get loads of stuff. Mass mailings of every kind somehow make it to the mailbox each day. They all offer the same thing – how to stay young and healthy. Where were those catalogs when I was young and healthy? Maybe if I had read them back then and heeded the advice, I wouldn’t be so old and broken down now.

One magazine had an article touting that 50 was the new 40. I really liked that idea. That means when I turn 60, it’ll be the new 50. If they keep backing up the age, when I turn 90, I’ll be 150 years old. After telling The Wife this, she just smiled. “Better keep working out.”

Last week even AARP sent me a mailer. Somehow they too know that I’m turning 50. Now all those discounts my dad gets — the ones I’ve been making fun of for 30 years — I’ll get, too.

Early bird special at restaurants — I’m there. Wednesday discounts at the grocery store — I’ll be the first in line. And this summer when the Wife and I travel, big discounts on the hotel stay await us when I plop down my shiny new AARP card. I just can’t wait to add to my collection of miniature shampoos, soap, and shower caps. Not that I really need shower caps anymore.

All that free stuff is really great, but it’s not always nifty just because you turn 50. Like it or not, some things just have to change. First, if you’re not already, it’s time to become a responsible adult. That means if you haven’t done it yet, you need to put down the video game controller and get a real job like the rest of us. Up and out by 6, home after 6 and working at least six days a week. That’s the grind. And if you want children, you need to hurry before all your old college buddies start to have grandkids.

Last week, I pulled out my old college pictures to show The Boy — the one’s where I had thick, long hair down to my shoulders. When he saw them, he started to laugh. “Dad, what happened?”

Forty-years ago when I saw my dad’s college pictures, I laughed, too. It was really funny then. Not so funny now.

I told Chuckles, “Fifty’s not so far off. Laugh while you still can – the hair loss gene is passed down to the firstborn male child.” I think he’s still laughing.

Everything considered, it looks like there’s life after 50. I’m still at my dream job, that of firefighter. Once every third day I battle fire-breathing dragons and rescue damsels in distress. When the shift is over, I come home to two fuzzy cats and the greatest wife in the world.

The Boy’s all grown, moved out, and as far as I know, I’m not a grandfather — yet. Gazing backward with forward-looking eyes, it’s not been half bad these last 50 years. And I believe the best is yet to come.

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