On Being 52: Trust Me, It’s More Than a Number

DSC_0326Please, I beg of you, don’t tell me that my age is “just a number” or “all a matter of attitude.” I get it, really I do, that you mean well, and that you think I’ve got a youthful spirit and that 52 is not 92. But I am here to tell you that being fiftysomething is more than a number. Regardless of one’s perky outlook, it is the startling—although it shouldn’t be a surprise seeing that I’ve had five decades to get used to the idea—realization that more than half my life is over. With that comes, if you’re paying attention at all, some kind of evaluation about where you are and where you want to go from here. 

Here’s what being 52 is: weakening eyesight, creaking knees, a need for naps, an ever-present countdown toward the rest of my life’s goals, missing my dead father, learning the language of Mother’s dementia, dreaming of going back to school yet again, wanting to make a difference, a longer list of books I haven’t read, grieving misplaced relationships and lost opportunities, wondering what will become of me. Thankfully, being middle-aged (humor me, please; I know I’m stretching the math here) also brings sharpened awareness of even the smallest joy, an appreciation for what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve avoided, a heightened curiosity, increased energy for what simply must get done and a gentle release of what won’t, discarding what no longer fits me—from old clothes to worn out grievances—without guilt, overflowing gratitude for steadfast friends and supportive relations, and trusting it will be okay in the end.

On this icy winter morning, as I consider my next steps, I raise my decaf latte to the fabulous Elaine Stritch, who bears witness to the “courage of age” with such blazing fortitude that I am made bolder simply by listening to her on National Public Radio.

Sing it, sister, I say. Shout it, growl it, live it.

6 responses to “On Being 52: Trust Me, It’s More Than a Number”

  1. Just … fabulous. Honest, and funny … graceful and bittersweet. I can relate to every single word.

    1. Thank you, Cece! I think YOUR words sum up the situation best: “funny…and bittersweet”!

  2. Amen Sister! I have 5 years on you, but I’m living those same thoughts, nightmares and self reflections. It’s not too late…that’s what I keep coming back to. I’m only “old” if I want to be old. I will continue to live in denial that the Senior Citizen Fairy has bonked me over the head with her evil wand!

    1. I’m with you, Mary! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  3. Thank you my friend, I am proud to be able to read the writing on your article!

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting.