I was out running with our dog, Eli, the other morning (yes, I’ve taken up running again after about a three year hiatus, but that’s another post for another day) when I had a huge “aha” moment. It hit me so deeply to the core that I stopped dead in my tracks, jerking poor Eli back in the process. It hit me right there on that morning . . . the real reason I was secretly dreading my next birthday.
My birthday isn’t for months but it is already on my mind. And not in that expectant, excited, giddy way. In February I will turn 50. Here’s the thing, I don’t actually mind turning 50. The actual number does not bother me nor do all the middle aged ramifications. I’ve faced the fact that I am, indeed, middle aged. I remember being so shocked at that realization a few years ago when my Third Son asked me if I was middle aged. At that time I hadn’t given it a thought. These days I know it to be true. I am fine with it.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not love the outward signs. The crows feet, new neck stuff going on and the change in the skin above my knees – that’s the worst. Why did God decide that would be a good place to allow gravity to show? Anyway, I faced the fact long ago that I am no longer in my twenties or even thirties and it’s okay. I continue to be active, teach my fitness classes and all in all, want to believe the new mantras that 50 is the new thirty.
If it wasn’t the physical aspect of turning 50, then why did I mind it so much? Was it just plain fear of getting older at such a milestone year? Was it that I’ve likely lived half of my life already? It was then that I realized that one hit really close to home. Let me explain.
When my dad was 53 he had a devastating heart attack that changed his whole world and the track of his life. It wasn’t just the type of heart attack you have, recover from and get back to a normal life. His was the serious type that forced him to retire from his dental practice, his golf game, much of his hunting and fishing, especially those he had enjoyed doing alone, and completely change his life. All that happened when he was only 53. He was not prepared, or in any way ready, to retire and give up so much of his life. Five years later, at age 58, he received a heart transplant. While that blessing allowed him another 15 years and the opportunity to know his four grandsons, he never truly ever “got busy living” after the initial heart attack.
As I approach my fiftieth birthday I see how young he was when that happened to him.
Four years ago my entire family, which consisted of the husband and our sons, my mom, and my brother’s family, were together for our traditional summer beach vacation. While we were on this trip my brother suffered a massive stroke/brain hemorrhage and died. He was 52. He was only 52. I am about to turn 50.
However, my fear isn’t actually dying so young. I am not afraid to die. I have a strong faith and am certain that when that time comes I will be in a place far better than even this wonderful world. I may only get past those pearly gates by the hair of my chin, but I am looking forward to some high times and perfect peace.
The fear that stopped me cold in my tracks on my morning run is all that I would leave unfinished if something happens to me as it did my father and brother. I am still in the process of raising three sons. I do not want to miss out on completing that job. I have this marriage that has withstood 23 years, and like most I know, is not perfect. It has much more growing and maturing to do. It has many more laughs, joys, celebrations, as well as heartaches and hills to endure. I do not want to leave it unfinished.
What about my days? Do I currently make the most of every single day? Do I make sure I am using my talents and gifts as I should? Or am I wasting my time and forgetting to appreciate the gifts and joys surrounding me daily? I think that is my fear. If I do not have another 30 years ahead of me to take my own sweet time in doing things, what then? I do not want to leave them unfinished. I do not want to let days go by without exploring new things, trying new ideas, loving those around me, appreciating God’s many gifts. I do not want these opportunities to pass me by. If I do not “get busy living” the right way now, I may be leaving all of that unfinished and that scares the *&^% out of me.
I’m not exactly sure how this story is supposed to end. I guess it’s just part of my personal story and my own kick in the pants to make sure I do my best every single day to not leave the important things unfinished.
What about you? How do you feel about big birthdays? Turning 50?
Enjoy Your Day!