Thursday, December 14, 2006

Black Balloons

There is a black balloon in my office. It says "Oh No, the Big 5-0." I walked into my staff meeting yesterday only to find black balloons, the afore mentioned one with "50" on it, and a cake with a tombstone that played "Happy Birthday" in a dirge like tone.

Whoopee.

Some of the staff took me out to a pub for lunch (yes, church people do that). I had the traditional Irish lunch drink, Diet Coke, along with potato and leek soup and chips (that's "fries" to you Colonials). They were interested to know how I feel about turning 50... even though that's not until the 16th.

Well, let's see. Fifty is when you know that you are no longer considered a sexual being or a sexual threat. You are a safe person to be around. When a pretty girl smiles at you, you assume that something is unzipped or that you remind her of a kindly uncle who is now in a nursing home in a distant land. I'm really not that old. I was just born before a lot of people. In the race to get to the planet, I beat out most of them.

Yes, I've seen changes. When I was a kid the wonder drug was alcohol. (in that neighborhood, it still is) My Social Security number only has six digits. And it's in Roman numerals. I can remember, when I was young, wanting to change the world. Now I only want to change the young. I find myself using words like "spacious, roomy, and comfortable" when buying underwear. I can remember when the Dead Sea was only sick.

Besides, it's all relative. If every year had twenty months instead of 12, I'd only be 30 this weekend. I wish they hadn't discontinued my blood type, but what are you going to do? For a while I learned something new every day. Now I unlearn something every day. I call that "a balanced life."

And who wants to live to be a hundred anyway? The only way to get there is to give up everything that made you want to live that long in the first place! And while it's true that the hands on my biological clock are giving me the finger, I'm okay with that. I'm not bitter. I figure it's not what happens to you that counts, it's how you choose to deal with it. I find Prozac, Vicodin, or a killing spree works best.

There are advantages. I'm old enough now to personally identify every object in an antique store. Sure, there are disadvantages. I pulled my left shoulder out putting peanut butter on a bagel (hey, it was chunky!). I pulled out my right shoulder putting Ben-Gay on my left shoulder. At least I'm not as old as the teller at my bank. She's 812 years old. If I counted the rings right.

I'll be here without my wife on my birthday. She flew to Texas for a cousin's wedding. Don't feel bad -- birthdays don't mean that much.. and it could be worse. I remember when my parents surprised me with a car on my sixteenth birthday. They missed me, but it was still quite a surprise. Besides, some of my surprise parties have really been interventions, so...

Fact is, birthdays used to be a big deal. That was when you would get a present -- something you wanted but could never, ever get the money or time or chance to get on your own. Now I can buy what I want (as long as I don't want much). Birthdays were also mile markers; each one opening up a door to another possibility, another step up the ol' maturity ladder. Now, birthdays mark the end of things and warn of coming slow downs and closed doors. I have four months left with my son before he ships out. My daughter is married to a good man. Christmas changes, then. So do birthdays. Sometimes the family will be together but...

Sad? Nope. Melancholy? Nope. I'm ready for this. I've been a traveling man all my life. Raised by missionaries, moving from one new frontier to another, and finally having to leave Scotland behind as I returned with my wife to America. I know I can't live in Scotland again (there isn't a good reason to, plus it is very expensive, far from any grandchildren that might be born, and the politics annoy me) but I miss it terribly. I know every day that I am on a road from this place to another place. This mile marker doesn't bother me. It just means I'm closer home. One day I'll be in a place where my Christian friends and I will all be together and where the days aren't marked by black balloons. If this Saturday means I'm one day closer to that... bring it on!

15 Comments:

At 12/14/2006 01:14:00 PM , Anonymous carrie burlingame said...

What incredible observations on turning 50! I, like you, just don't take the age thing all that seriously. The idea of living to 100 holds absolutely no appeal for me. I appreciate your humor and your candor. When was the Dead Sea sick? I don't remember it being anything but dead! I am deeply grateful that they missed you with the car...it's such a blessing to have you in my life! God Bless you richly, my friend, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 
At 12/14/2006 02:55:00 PM , Blogger k2 said...

that was a great read. thanks for sharing that with us. i, too, can't wait to be with all my christian friends again. you mentioned scotland, my place to be would be arlington, texas. right now i have to bide my time and help take care of family. my wife's mother, and my parents. maybe one day we will be able to sit by d2's pool, and laugh at greg and amy's while trying to describe things on the catch phrase screen ... but until then, we will have to wait.

thanks again for sharing.

 
At 12/14/2006 04:57:00 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Happy Birthday (when it gets here)!! You certainly sound like a deserving sort of fellow. I appreciate your thoughts on getting older. I am certainly getting 'safer' around pretty women too. Is that why they are smiling? Oh no!

 
At 12/14/2006 05:31:00 PM , Blogger Greg said...

I just knew you were going to say you can't live in Scotland again because you were a fugitive from justice. I realized my age when the music I hear on elevators and in department stores is the orchestral arrangement of many of my old 8-Track tapes! I play in a praise band at our church, along with two other guys my age and a keyboard player who is in 11th grade. His name is Daniel. We are affectionately known as "Daniel and the Geezers"! We played at a friend's church in Stockton recently and one of the oldest ladies in his church told him a week later that she really liked that praise band ... they sounded a lot like Lynard Skynard! I find out every day being a geezer ain't so bad ... except I used to be able to pee a lot faster. And I knew when I was done!!!

 
At 12/14/2006 06:11:00 PM , Blogger Terri said...

So... what are all the geezers smiling at?

 
At 12/14/2006 06:41:00 PM , Blogger Reflections Staff said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12/14/2006 09:23:00 PM , Anonymous TinaMarie said...

Happy Birthday Patrick!!!! God has truely used you and will continue to use you. I smiled as I read the blog, (I am only 3 years away from 50) and I have begun to realize that I can't do some of the things my minds says I can or that I use to do. The joints don't appreciate it when I try.
Enjoy your birthday as well as have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 
At 12/15/2006 07:00:00 PM , Blogger John Telgren said...

In some ways, the Bible holds getting old in high regard. My, uh, pride began to shrivel with the grace of aging. Why in the world would I want to pump something like viagara into my deflated ego to pump it back up again with all the pride and stupdity of my youth? Am I less a man or more of a man with each passing year? I think the Biblical perspective is clear on that! Thanks for sharing a bit of your light hearted perspective on birthdays!

 
At 12/16/2006 10:56:00 AM , Blogger That Girl said...

Happy Birthday!!!

 
At 12/16/2006 10:58:00 AM , Anonymous C. A. Brown said...

Happy Bithday Mr. Mead!

 
At 12/16/2006 07:46:00 PM , Blogger Kara Graves said...

Happy Birthday! Thanks for helping me on the puzzle, I had a lot of fun!

 
At 12/17/2006 08:46:00 PM , Anonymous maragen said...

I was in a shoe shop yesterday. Told my daughter-in-law "You know you are getting old when the sales clerk brings you "Old Lady" shoes and you like them."

 
At 12/17/2006 09:10:00 PM , Anonymous Dee said...

Just celebrated my first 60 yrs on the planet. For the first time in my brief life I find myself thinking about the END, wondering what my legacy will be, or how much longer I might have to establish it. My mom lived till 80+ but not sure that I will live that long.

FYI: At fifty Sean Connery was voted one of the sexiest men on the planet. Let's see now, where was HE born? As for you and me, if our wives still find us remotely desirable at our ages we're doing OK.

HB, Patrick.

 
At 12/17/2006 10:24:00 PM , Blogger Royce Ogle said...

I am at 61 but some days I am sure the odometer has turned over once already!

Grace and Peace,
Royce Ogle

 
At 12/19/2006 12:38:00 PM , Blogger CrazyJo said...

Happy (belated) Birthday! I tried to post a comment a couple days ago (no, seriously!) but Blogger was acting up and wouldn't let me. Hope it was a happy one!

 

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