As a kid, I made jokes about Geritol, prune juice, and Depends. Aging provided rich fodder for humor…until the joke turned on me. Note Exhibit 1: a portion of an elaborate membership envelope that recently arrived.
Even as I marched through the decades — 20’s, 30’s, 40’s — I never thought of myself as old. And even as the hair right down the middle of my head empty-nested me, I never attributed it to aging. (I just blamed 20p11, the small region on chromosome 20 that sends so many in search of toupees or for membership in Hair Club for Men.) The point I’m trying to make is that getting older was o’yonder, one or two vast valleys away. Not imminent, like on your front porch.
Turning 50 almost a month ago wasn’t difficult. That said — of the previous 49 birthdays –none has made me think more about time and change than the fiftieth. My journal holds a dozen recent musings about all measures of time — past, present, future. I think a lot about the growth of our three sons, how fast they’re aging and maturing. I wonder how life will treat them, and if they’re ready. I think about my marriage, which has mellowed into a mature friendship and fine partnership. I wonder what it’ll be like after the third son goes to college, and if we’ll be ready. And I think about how much I’ve enjoyed my career and how I love what I do now and how I’ll carry on until 65, perhaps longer.
I am, of course, aging whether I acknowledge it or not. Pictures on Facebook show childhood friends gathered at 50th birthday parties; many have aged considerably. “I’m not that guy,” I think, zeroing in on the oldest, heaviest, least-haired fellow. But I am that guy, regardless of appearance. We’ve bonded by the rite of surviving 50 years. Fifty years. (Recently, driving a swim carpool and listening to the conversation about a teacher, I heard one boy say to another: “He’s so old. He’s like 40.”)
I accept the passage of time. What else can I do? I even accept the arrival of the AARP mailer. After all, the discounts you get as a senior are pretty darned impressive. And to join for three years? Forty-three dollars? That’s actually not a bad deal.
Consider me aged.