Today one of my younger cousins told me, with some hesitation, that she was 50. My immediate response was “No way! You’re catching up girl.” We laughed. We talked about the changes. And she admitted that turning 50 and more so admitting it, was not easy. Afterwards, I marvelled at the idea of 50. What does 50 look like. What does 50 do and think. Where does 50 go. There she was, as young as I’ve always remembered her, same laugh, same sense of humour, same joie de vivre – only she was now 50.

I distinctly remember the day I learned that my mother was 40 years old. I remember staring at her for a while and then crying secretly in my bed later that night. For at the tender age of 10 or so, I thought my mother was going to die. In my mind, forty was old. So you can imagine what fifty must be like.

Today, having spent some years being both forty and fifty myself, I can attest that growing old is really not so bad. In fact, apart from the reality that your body changes, whether you like it or not, and no matter how much you exercise. That your mind is not as agile as it used to be – you can only store so much data in one brain at any one time. And that you are going to need much more sleep than when you were a teenager,

Turning 50 is like getting a new life.

You become you. You are confident. You know what you want, and you make sure you get it. You have experience to share, and you do so willingly, yet carefully. You are more empathetic as you’ve seen what life can offer. You’ve built strong friendships that have stood the test of time. You’ve learnt how not to sweat the small stuff. You know that worrying is a waste of time (although you still worry some for good measure). Your children (yours and those you’ve adopted) can take care of themselves. You know how to pray. You truly understand the meaning of family.

I look at my children and my nieces and nephews growing up and I smile a broad smile. They are full of energy with high expectations for the future. And, at fifty-something, so am I. For I still have a lot to look forward to and I will do it, with the same fervour and with every ounce of energy left in my body.

I can’t wait for the big SIX ZERO.


6 thoughts on “The big FIVE ZERO

  1. Turning fifty is now my normal which is so, weird, you are so right about the youthful concept of “old” I recall a young, twenty year old coworker being flabbergasted that a forty-five year old was now “busy” doing her first degree and she commented rather unkindly, “why she doh go an rest she old self and leave that for we young people!!’ I wonder what her thoughts are now that she’s also past that age. I recall my teachers being “old” imagine my shock when I met them some years later and they ‘LOOK, SPEAK and ACT’ the same.. apparently not aging… I too am excited about the future given what I have learnt. Thank you for sharing these insights Denise, it is really helpful for me as it reminds me to celebrate Life.

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