The Big 5-0

How does it feel to be 50?

That is a question I never thought I’d have to answer. It’s not that I didn’t think I’d live to be 50; although, given that neither my mother nor my mother’s mother lived to be 45, I’ve always harbored some doubt as to whether I would make it this far.

And yet, here I am. It has taken a few weeks, but I’m getting used to it. And it definitely beats the alternative.

I remember s-e-v-e-r-a-l years ago when my friend’s mother was turning 50. LaVon was adamant about making it a memorable event, just as she had done for her dad when he turned 50 a few months earlier. Only better.

So we planned a mock funeral, complete with flowers and a papier mache casket. Then we rented a limo to drive the family around town with the funeral flag flying on the hood, and invited all of her mom’s relatives, neighbors, and friends (including her boss, whom she had expressly directed us not to get involved in whatever shenanigans we had in mind) to surprise her at the house when they got back. Silly woman. She would have been better off not saying anything at all. The funeral spray from her boss was the biggest of the bunch.

I got to be the funeral director who turned LaVon’s parent’s home into a funeral parlor while they were out. Music. Flowers. Casseroules from all the sympathetic neighbors. The whole nine yards.

LaVon’s cousin Dolly played the angel, who greeted the family at the door, led Yvonne (LaVon’s mom) to the “viewing room,” and informed her that the people gathered there couldn’t hear her anymore because she had “crossed over.”

Yvonne’s own mother—LaVon’s grandmother—gave the eulogy. It was crazy awesome. And Yvonne said she would never forgive us if she lived to be 100—but she said it with a smile on her face, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

That was a l-o-n-g, l-o-n-g, l-o-n-g time ago. So long, in fact, that the Jarhead and I were in college, El Noble was a toddler, and a Princess Primrose had yet to exist.

Then a few years pass and suddenly—BOOM! Along comes May 2016, and within one week I became a 50-year-old mother of the groom with a houseful of relatives, and a wonderful new daughter-in-law.

No mock funerals. No limos. Just a big wonderful, weekend that started with a vintage-themed outdoor wedding on Friday, continued with a picnic and pool party on Saturday, and ended with Alaskan salmon, halibut, and King Crab—flown in by none other than LaVon—on Sunday. It was the best birthday weekend ever. To paraphrase Yvonne: if I live to be 100, I will never forget it.

A few days afterward, I saw a picture of Christie Brinkley on the cover of a magazine where I shop for groceries. The caption read “Christie Brinkley at 62!”

And for a moment, all I could do was blink and look for the word that would complete the headline.

Did it say “dead at 62?” Pregnant at 62? Married at 62? Divorced (again)at 62?

No. Nope. None of the above. It was just a photo of a woman, age 62, and who apparently looks different from what one would expect her to look at the age of 62. That was the headline. Hm.

I won’t bore you with a list of all the thoughts that flew through my head at that moment. Suffice it to say that sexism is alive and well in women’s magazines, because I’ve yet to see a photo of a famous MALE celebrity with a caption that suggests he looks surprisingly good for 62. Again, hm.

But as for 50, it’s pretty great. My mug won’t be gracing the cover of any magazines any time soon, but maybe it will be by the time I’m 62. You never know.

In the meantime, you can see me chatting about books and writing with fellow writers Tom Cannon and Dixie Jarchow on their local cable access show, Author Showcase. To view it, click on the link below.