February 22, 2020

The Oy of Turning 50

It is happening to me, and IF you are blessed to live long enough, it will happen to you, too.

What is this blessing, you ask? Turning 50.

I’m now going to be considered middle-aged. I am having a slight case of indigestion accepting that I will have lived for half a century. Nu? This doesn’t happen every day.

On the phone the other day, a woman asked for my date of birth. When I gave it to her, she said, “Oh, you’re almost middle-aged.”

My heart skipped a beat. Defensively, I asked, “What do you mean, ‘middle-aged’?”

Within a few months, my birthday would be arriving and I would be considered middle-aged.

AARP, formerly known as the American Association for Retired
Persons, must have everyone in its database because it sent me information just last week to sign up for its senior magazine.

I showed AARP. As soon as I saw AARP on the envelope, I threw its publicity in the trash. That should do the trick and keep me younger.

This would soon be me. I would be entitled to a special senior citizen discount. Ouch!

But nothing could stop my body from progressing on its natural path of womanhood. After crying for two days straight, I realized I was in perimenopause. It suddenly made sense why I had not been sleeping at night, been having mood swings like mad, hot flashes and just been biting everyone’s head off for the past several months.

My poor friends for having to put up with me, and poor me, thinking I had really flown the coop.

Calm down, I told myself. Maybe it’s not so bad.

Just as I began to relax, I remembered once being in a gift shop on a Tuesday and not understanding why it was a madhouse. Jam-packed with elderly women bumping into one another, with a line that extended out the door. I thought they were giving away something. I asked one of the women and found out I had had the misfortune of showing up on senior citizen discount day. A whopping 10 percent off!

This would soon be me. I would be entitled to a special senior citizen discount. Ouch! So when did this happen, God?

How could I have been so busy that the years have all gone so quickly? Please, God, answer me, I need to know.

Suddenly, more than half of my life is gone. Tell me, God, why didn’t you stop me from wasting so much time with nonsense?

The tears began to flow like a river for all the precious days of yesteryear, for what could have been, for what should have been.

I wondered with every bone in my body how I could recapture the fountain, the miraculous fountain of youth. It’s the fountain we all yearn so desperately for, but why?

Youth is filled with ignorance and arrogance. We are quick to anger and slow to forgive. But if we are blessed to defy death until we turn gray with wisdom, hopefully, grace and dignity will accompany us.

We learn this from our patriarch, Abraham. For it is written: “And Abraham grew old and came into days, and God blessed Abraham with everything.”

With these words I understood that I would beg God with all my might, and bow my head in shame to repent for my foolishness of yesterday.

I realized that there is no guarantee to the rite of passage of growing old. It is an honored gift from above and each moment is to be treasured until we are called home.

I have started to think about growing older not as a time to end one’s journey, but instead as an amazing journey to embark upon new beginnings.

After all, life can begin at any age, and mine, with God’s blessings, is about to begin at age 50.

Edith Brown lives in Maryland, where she volunteers for Bikur Cholim, a nonprofit that provides assistance to people facing medical and related challenges.