So I’m 50 and Now What!!!?#$%&;@

Since my 50th birthday, 2 weeks ago, I have calmed down about the whole Milestone decade thing. My days at work breezed by without a blink. No one knew or cared. Life was the same. The only people that mattered made sure to celebrate me. I had a wonderful time with my siblings and cousins, who are so close to me that we were able to enjoy a very special girls getaway.

As part of my promise to myself,  I saw my PCP. I was very pleased to get a clean bill of health. I received my annual flu shot, my cholesterol and blood pressure report and a referral to get a colonoscopy.

Okay, I’ll admit that one was not a surprise. I knew it was coming. but that doesn’t mean I am looking forward to it. However, I do resolve to take care of myself and do all my tests this year: my mammogram, my eye exam and my dermatologist.

So , as a reward for being so proactive in my health regimen, I decided to reward myself with a facial. I booked one at my local spa. Anti-aging was my goal. I wanted to get some relief for those dark circles and age spots.

I enjoyed a very relaxing facial treatment while she explained the benefits of each product. I was almost convinced that the eye cream with Retinol A, cucumber extract and caffeine was just what I needed to improve my complexion.

When I walked up to the counter and saw the product waiting for me, with an $80 price tag for less than one ounce, I balked. I am not old enough,wrinkled enough, or dull enough to justify such an extravagant and expensive beauty cream. No Thank You! Try me again when I’m 60!

The Mind-Body Image Discrepancy

I am steadily improving after my knee surgery this week. I shifted from crutches to a cane and anticipate soon being able to walk on my own. Yesterday, I ventured out of the house for the first time to go grocery shopping with my husband. I felt proud to be able to walk up and down the aisles and even carry one object at a time to place in the cart. The looks or avoidance I got from my fellow shoppers, however, made me very aware of the discrepancy between how we look to others and how we feel.

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Out for a brief stroll on a beautiful day!

To people who don’t know me and understand that this is only a temporary setback, I must look like the victim of a car accident and may even be permanently handicapped. To my family and friends, I am a brave, resilient woman making an amazing recovery from an injury that started four months ago. Most of the time, though, it doesn’t take anything remarkable to cause this mind-body discrepancy, just age. Therefore, I would like to share this short tribute to a special person whom I only knew as an old man, but who obviously saw himself much differently.

When I first met Harry, he was already approaching the ripe old age of 90. He didn’t move as quickly as his grandsons, but his mind was still sharp and he played a good game of chess. I was invited to go camping with “the boys” that summer.

The Boys

The Boys


We spent six days paddling down river, setting up tents, fishing and swimming and Grandpa Harry certainly pulled his share of the work. Looking back, I feel extremely privileged to have been part of that guy-bonding trip.

By the time my daughter, his first great-grandchild, was born, Harry was no longer up for that level of activity; but that didn’t stop him from gardening and getting down to her level to teach her what he knew.

Gardening lesson

Gardening lesson

He still loved to fish and wore his favorite hat, although he now needed a cane to climb in and out of the boat. Even though his body weakened, he enjoyed life to the end. Sadly, he passed away before either of my children could form coherent memories of him.

Years later, in an effort to downsize (see saving family heirlooms ) , my mother-in-law, Harry’s daughter, passed on his fishing hat and cane to my children -sad but meaningful tokens to them.

Four generations

Four generations

In spite of the fact that my son never met Grandpa Harry, he always knows it is his cane. The other day, he came home from school to see me walking and his face lit up as he proclaimed:”You’re using Grandpa Harry’s cane, mom! He would like that!”

It amazes me how a cane, which Harry only used for a few of his 94 years, has served as a bridge between him and his great grandson. Even though it is a symbol of weakness and old age- certainly not how he saw himself until the very end- it has become a way to keep Harry’s memory alive at whatever age we knew him. So, as I walk with the aid of his cane I think of him and smile. Some people might see me as weak, but they don’t know the strength of the spirit behind this cane.