My Top 3 Questions About 50

BirthdayIt’s official, and now that the rollercoaster that was this week is over, I can share this bit of news with all of you.  In the midst of the madness, I celebrated my 50th birthday. Yes, I am now a half-century old.

I think I’m supposed to feel different because friends and colleagues keep asking me, “How do you feel?”  Is 50 supposed to feel different than 49?  Am I supposed to be sad?  Contemplative?  Excited?

What I can say, having survived a head injury, the result of a car accident, and then 13 coronary stents, is, “I’m very happy to be here.”  Is that enough?  Should there be more?  According to celebrities who reach an insert-age-here milestone and then write a book and go on talk shows to shout how wonderful it is to be said age, I should be glowing — but the only thing that appears to be glowing is the fifty shades of gray in my hair.

The chronological number truly means nothing to me.  It’s the feeling number that counts — and there are days when I feel 30 and days when I feel 80 and days when I feel just right.

Every time when I look in the mirror, All these lines on my face getting clearer. . . Aerosmith, "Dream On"

Every time when I look in the mirror,
All these lines on my face getting clearer. . .
Aerosmith, “Dream On”

Nevertheless, 50, I’m told by current members of the club, has its perks.  For starters, I now have an admirer — a stalker, really, who goes by the name AARP.   Persistent in its efforts, my suitor sends me letters and emails daily in an attempt to get my attention.  Flowers, AARP.   Flowers would be a much more romantic touch.

I’ve also been informed that now that I’ve achieved 50, my inner censorship button is shut off and I’m free to roam about the cabin and say anything and everything.  I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of freedom, but I’m willing to give it a try.

With that in mind, I have some questions about the 50’s experience.  If you’re in the club, feel free to answer.  If you’re still working your way up to the required membership age, you may have your own questions and my panel of commenting experts may be able to provide some guidance.

Mondo Grass with last year's comb over.

Mondo Grass with last year’s comb over.

1. Does gray hair have a mind of its own?

For most of my life, I’ve combed my hair in the same direction.  At this stage, each strand, like well-trained soldiers, knows what I expect of them and they easily fall into place.

But not the grays.   They’re a bit more rebellious, different textured, and determined to remain untamed.  Even the whiskers in my beard are disobedient.  I think the gray whiskers press themselves against the surface of my skin, waiting for the blades to pass over them.  Once the danger has moved on, they spring up to full attention, no different than the one blade of grass that always seems to be just out of reach of the mower.

Time, time, time, See what's become of me. . . Simon & Garfunkel, "Hazy Shade of Winter"

Time, time, time,
See what’s become of me. . .
Simon & Garfunkel, “Hazy Shade of Winter”

2. While we’re on the subject of gray hair, who is that middle-aged man and what has he done with the image of me that I think I am?

This is perhaps the one thing I can never — will never — get used to: my reflection.  As I go about my day, I don’t consider how I look.  I forget that that there is more gray than brown in my hair, forget that I now wear glasses, forget that my waistline is a little fuller.  In my mind, I’m younger than my age.

And then I pass a store window and see me — and each time, I’m stunned, as if I’m seeing a familiar face after several decades.  The conversation in my head goes something like this: “I can place the face, but, boy-oh-boy, he’s aged — and somehow, I haven’t changed a bit.”

I know, a “duh” moment.

There's nothing like Hosta green to get the spring blood flowing.

There’s nothing like Hosta green to get the spring blood flowing.

3. Is there an anatomy book for people over 50?

If not, there certainly should be.  That thought occurred to me after a day of spring cleanup.  That night, once showered and relaxed, I felt a pain somewhere deep between my hip and my waist, and I could only feel it if I walked a certain way.  I wish I could be more specific, but I never considered that part of my body, much less have an actual name for it.

This might actually be a good time to bring up my idea for a pre-garden season training camp — kind of like the kind for baseball players, only with more deep knee bends and hoisting.


So, who am I at 50?

I’m certainly more gray, more achy and more thankful — but I’m far from dead.  In fact, I like to think that I’m a bit like the Hydrangea above, which I spotted while cleaning up.  Older and woodier, but when touch I the ground, roots take hold and new green emerges.

63 thoughts on “My Top 3 Questions About 50

  1. I was thinking the same thing about the pre-gardening training camp…turning 56 in a month I feel like I can barely put in 3 hours in the garden when I used to put in 8. I need to get in better shape than I ever was if my body is to survive the next 30 years to come…enjoy the next 50….it is fun!!

  2. I found, as I got older, that I could feel real contentment. When I was 20, I was either ecstatically happy or completely desolate; at 30, I was always too busy to feel anything and at 40, life always seemed to be a struggle. My 50s are much calmer. I think I’ve begun to learn not to worry about things I can’t control and focus on things that are important.

  3. Oh if I’d known it was your birthday I’d have baked a cake…but those who know I’m ‘cateringly challenged’ will be congratulating you on a narrow escape of a lifetime of indigistion!
    I am 40 several with a small number of years until the arrival of the big 50 which just doesn’t seem poosible as in my head I’m still a child, just left school, not wanting to be a grow’d up! My body though, today is a perfect example, fills wayyyyy older than 50 but give me a garden, sunshine, birds singing, a trowel & a fistful of seeds & I’m 20 something again.
    Happy birthday my friend xxx

    • JANE!!!! If I could garden every day . . . I’ve actually thought about how I will be in my much older years. I picture myself with a straw hat, puttering around the garden, talking to plants, and just being at peace. Now, if I can only get used to hearing my ’80s bands on the oldies radio stations. When did The Human League become an oldie but goodie????

    • 🙂 I hope the club members won’t hold it against you. That would be some scene, with everyone missing a censorship button. Thanks for the well-wishes, Kat.

  4. Ahhhh….I remember 50! That was a NUMBER of years ago. I too wonder who the “old lady” is in the mirror as I ride up department store escalators – yikes!
    But there’s always a wealth of blessings to be thankful for – you just have to take a closer look. Wishing you a very happy Birthday Kevin – may your fabulous wit and delightful humour never desert you!
    Remember – it’s a cheerful and hopeful outlook on life that keeps us young.

  5. I agree with Ann. By fifty you have a certain amount of financial and career stability that you didn’t have previously(hopefully). And start looking forward to the time you can enjoy not having to work. And by fifty you don’t care as much of what others think of you. You are content in just being yourself, To follow your own beliefs and interests.

  6. Belated birthday wishes!
    No idea regarding the beard question (it’s a rather male topic^^). Perhaps I could talk about the strange increase of connective tissue weakness (the equivalent female issue) instead…
    Oh yes, that’s hugely useful: a pre-garden season training camp! What a wonderful idea! How thankful and glad would be knees, neck/shoulders and other important parts of my body!

    50+ is the perfect age for becoming attached to these things they call wrinkles.
    Furthermore it’s the perfect time for intensifying your dry sense of humour and it’s simply an ideal point in time for showing your serenity – which generously is really much more easier to achieve now. ^^
    No, seriously, it’s a good time. Any strange feeling which might have been occurred during the time of your rather special birthday will disappear quickly.
    But talking of strange … I noticed that quite a lot of people who are younger (than I am) are feeling older or are looking older than they really are. That makes me think that perhaps it’s not the 50 which makes the difference but the person itself. Attitude, mindset, (body-)awareness and so on.

    Wishing you a good time!

    • Hi Michele. Interesting observation. Now that you mention it, I too see people younger than me who are looking older. Many thanks for the advice and the birthday wishes. Be well!

  7. Dear Kevin…..may I pass on something I learned at fifty…”Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside , really worn out, proclaiming, “WAHOO, what a ride!”

    Looking forward to celebrating with you on Friday and marking the milestone . Happy Birthday Kev!
    Love, Jeannie

  8. I jotted down a quote long before it pertained to me: “we are always the same age inside.” Now, at sixty, I appreciate those words. Inside, I’m about thirty-five. I have sore joints that disagree, but that’s my story. Happy Birthday to you!

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story, Kevin. I somehow missed the post about your accident, so I’m so glad you shared the link. That’s an amazing experience to survive what should have been a devastating accident. In my mid-thirties I lost two friends, one to illness and another in a bad accident. I think at that time I quickly learned not to complain about birthdays and age. I was fortunate to be here. But gray hair? What gray hair? As long as I have good health I’m not too concerned with age. I don’t stare at myself in the mirror…that really helps! Happy Birthday, my friend! The only thought I can offer is to cultivate relationships and surround yourself with people who add to your life more than subtract. That’s the gift I give myself! 🙂

  10. Kevin, congrats on reaching a great milestone – men look sensational with grey hair – you have survived more ordeals than most – enjoy to the fullest!
    Regards, Flavia

  11. Happy Birthday, Kevin! Loved this post. Rejoice! There are many reasons to celebrate this part of life! The best part, you have demonstrated already, is humorous acceptance of experience, awareness and the acknowledgement from the rest of the group that love living and sharing.

    • Hi Cathyann. I really think we have to keep on laughing — especially for sanity’s sake. Although, now that I think of it, it might look pretty insane if we all walked around laughing. Thanks for the birthday wishes and your kind words. Hope all is well with you.

  12. Dear Kevin – Love this post! Those gray hairs with minds of their own must be genetic! My solution to that dilemma is simple – pull the witches! 😉 Of course, you have to be careful not to pull out those beautiful brown hairs with the grays! A little tougher as the eyesight dims and the fingers are not so nimble as they were in our younger days. As for age, I agree with Harry – age is a number. In her mind, your 60-year-old aunt is still about 18, although the knees and back would certainly disagree with that. Although the body may ache, it’s is best to keep on moving, associate with people who make you happy and continue to keep a positive spin on life – you will remain young for many, many years to come! Happy birthday!

    • Hi Aunt Pat. I thought you’re not supposed to pull gray — or risk more growing back. But I do agree that it’s important to remain young at heart. 🙂

  13. LOL. I’m only 36 but I have that gray hair problem too. The darn things poke straight up demanding attention no matter how hard I try to keep them down. Definitely need a pre-garden training camp, I’m feeling all sorts of muscles this week that I haven’t felt since last season.

    • Hi Marguerite, you youngster. 🙂 I think we need to speak with a hair specialist about those grays — although maybe they can teach us about the importance of standing tall, being independent, and having some fun. I’ll see you at camp. 🙂

  14. Cheers and congratulations on you, Kevin. Nicely done, your celebratory post. To be sure, 50 is a huge milestone; I remember it, I think. What I know is life gets even better as time goes by. Perhaps because aging beats the alternative. Here’s to your second 50.

    • Hey Lee. Always a treat to hear from my blogging mentor. Believe me, I’m not ready for that alternative — I’ve got way to too much to do. 🙂

  15. It’s a wonder, isn’t?

    Congratulations on rounding another upward spiral. I’m so glad you’re here to grace all with your humor, insight, passions, and style.

    If gray hair has a mind of it’s own, it’s probably a reminder to grow wilder and less compromising through the decades.

    Once, I saw my grandma looking back at me from the mirror, and I wanted to sit down in easy chairs and have a long conversation. Now, I see an old friend who keeps changing in intriguing ways. Not what I expected at sixty.

    Here’s to the rest of the story! I trust it be full-bodied and fun to read.

  16. Happy birthday Kevin!

    I loved your post – we’re always told how we’re supposed to feel and live in today’s society, and when life doesn’t imitate these expectations we have somehow missed the boat. When it really isn’t that way at all. It’s good to always know your truth – and you tell yours with such authenticity and humor – thank you for being so real.

    Wishing you another 50 years full of gardening!

    • Hi Kelly. Thanks for the birthday wishes — a good time was had by all. 🙂 I’m also glad that you enjoyed the post — it’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves. Be well.

  17. Happy, happy belated birthday, Kevin! I’ll be joining the fabulous 50 club soon. As you mentioned at the beginning of your post, I’ll just be happy to be here. We have nothing to worry about. Us gardeners are eternally youthful. I gardened all day yesterday, and feel fabulous now even though I wore myself out! I enjoyed your post! All the best! 🙂

    • Hi Beth. It’s great to hear from you and thanks for the birthday wishes — I’m glad I could pave the way for you. 🙂 It’s amazing how much energy I have on a gardening day — from sunrise to sunset! And not even a nap! 🙂

  18. Hi Kevin! Welcome to the club! Good news, you have passed a milestone that allows you the freedom to live life as you wish. You are now young enough to still do what you want and old enough to get away with it!

    i turned 50 and started college! A friend turned 50, bought a boat ans now sails the carribean. The choice is yours as to what you do with your life at this stage. I couldn’t help but think the wayward behaviour of your gray hairs might be your own restless spirit wanting to burst forth.

    You comment about the stranger in the mirror? Well hate to tell you this but he has always been there. None of us really know who is looking back at us in the mirror. The fact that the image ages is well, just a fact of life. Your spirit inside is never seen by others yet that spirit is what really controls your true age, not the image you see in the mirror.

    Enjoy your life, embrace your interests, and practice your pleasures. Now is the best time of your life so relish it! Oh and btw the AARP discounts????? worth it! lol


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