Welcome to 50!

So, the other night, I had just finished washing some dishes and had placed them in the kitchen sink drying rack to air dry. I moved across the room to turn the light off when I noticed something on the kitchen counter. I looked closer and was shocked to see this huge, practically gigantic bug … most likely a cockroach … sitting there eyeing me.

With one stealth move, I grabbed my T-R off the kitchen table and rolled it up. It was him or me, I thought, and I moved in for the kill. I was like a jungle cat going after his prey. This bug was toast …

Splat! I slammed the newspaper on top of the insect, crushing it.

Resolute in my efforts, I moved back to see the final results of my fatal blow. But as I lifted the newspaper, I was shocked, even horrified at what was before me.

I did not kill a cockroach, or a spider, not even a fly … instead, I had killed a dried cranberry.

Welcome to 50!

It’s a true story and a somewhat laughable reminder that sometimes things aren’t nearly as clear or as crisp as they once were (I just had an eye exam – new contacts have been ordered).

After my birthday celebration earlier this week and a surprise party that friends hosted last weekend, several people have asked me, “Well, how does it feel?”

And honestly, I’m not sure how to answer that question. Physically I don’t feel any different than I did at 49. I don’t know that I’m any wiser or have a greater perspective on the world around me (I mean, I did kill a cranberry). And really, what is 50 suppose to feel like?

I know there are perks associated with getting older, like senior discounts at certain restaurants (I checked and I have five more years before I can order from the senior menu at Perkins). AARP membership apparently will save you money at some restaurants, businesses and travel. And at some point, wearing black dress socks while you mow isn’t that tragic (OK, that will never happen).

Perhaps what 50 has brought me, however, is something that only comes with age — an appreciation for what’s really important.

Aside from the jokes and gag gifts I received on my 50th, the greatest gift was the realization that I am blessed and that I have friends and family with whom I share my life … something much more important to me now than it was when I was 18, 21 or even 40.

And as we get older, our understanding of what’s important has greater meaning because we are on this Earth for a short amount of time. We understand that time is precious.

And while I’ve always been a bit of a sentimentalist, turning 50 has not made me maudlin about life. Instead, I think I’m more optimistic, more caring, and I hope, a little more understanding.

“Being 50,” or any age for that matter, is what you make of it.

So, as I mark this milestone, I relish that I’m a half-century old, that my life has meaning and purpose and that there is little time for regrets … except that poor cranberry.

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com