Fifty. A half century. Jubilee year. Golden anniversary. The big five-oh. I started thinking about the significance of this number when I realized I was coming to my 50th blog post. I can hardly believe I’ve written so many, and for those of you who’ve been reading them, I thank you. Back in June when I first began a blog-journal about my house fire and how it’s affected my life and that of my family, I couldn’t imagine writing fifty entries. It’s such a large significant number that it caused me to reflect how far we’ve all come since that Thursday night in May.
Those first few weeks after the fire were extremely stressful. In addition to all the worries about my son’s health and the damage to the house, I spent hours every day on the phone dealing with insurance, phone and cable companies, contractors, and more. I hate doing that even in the best of times. I got through the worst of it, though. Now I’m more or less settled in a rental house and the repairs on my own house are slowly but surely coming along. My daughter came home from college and left again and still managed to have a good summer despite not having a lot of her personal stuff. My son has gone through the most – the trauma of the fire and hospitalization, depression, post-trauma stress, and finally, with help, he’s made his way back to school and is living on campus again. This journey back to ‘normal’ isn’t quite over yet, but I feel like we’ve survived the toughest part of it.
People often make a big deal about turning fifty, usually in a negative way. I entered my 50s two years ago. I don’t mind admitting it; age isn’t that big a deal to me. That’s one of the ‘gifts’ my father gave me. Growing up, I always heard him say that life gets better and better. Despite his outwardly sarcastic manner, he actually looked on the positive side of most things. That’s probably where I got my optimistic point of view, too. While not a big party person, I’ve always thrown a birthday party celebrating my entry into a new decade. Advertisers may stop caring about consumers after age 49, thinking they are stuck in their ways, but my dad believed you could always change and start over again. After all, he joined AA and became sober at 50, a huge change that he kept for the rest of his life.
The most difficult thing for me about moving forward in my 50s is not the age itself or even watching my two children become adults with their own lives. I find it hard adjusting to living for myself and nobody else. For most of my adult life, I’ve had a man and/or children in my daily life. For many years I had to consider them in almost every decision or activity; it seemed selfish not to. I’m on my own now, yet I have trouble living life just for my own sake. I don’t really enjoy attending certain events or traveling around by myself. It doesn’t seem worth it to cook a real meal just for me. This is the wrong attitude, I tell myself, I am worth it. Easier said than believed and practiced, but I intend to try harder now that my nest is mostly empty. It’s one of the reasons I decided to sell my large suburban house, as soon as it’s repaired, and find a smaller city one, closer to the cultural events I enjoy. I hope to focus more on what I want and not only on what others need on this journey through my 50s. I was thinking about this yesterday while grocery shopping. I remind myself not to buy too much produce because it will spoil before I can eat it all. No need to stock up on food for the kids. Just buy for one, I remind myself. Then I walk over to the plant section to pick out some flowers. Just for myself.