Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Turning 50 graciously

Published:Sunday | December 13, 2015 | 12:00 AMKarl Salmon

When I was 15, I thought my parents were old and not 'down with it' to be around my camp of rebel alliances.

They were loving and nurturing. However, they were in their late 40s and in retrospect, skin and health care were not as developed then as it is now. Added to that, laborious time spent in the sun, economic and social stress, as well as eating and drinking habits all contributed to accelerating the ageing process. The ridges mapped across their faces traced a never-ending journey of time. In the back of my mind, I dreaded the thought of ageing.

It appears the chicken has now come home to roost.

Call it karma, if you must, but one Saturday I went to my 14-year-old son's hockey game to support him and his team. They won the game and while we were driving away to continue the celebrations, I honked my horn at a group of his classmates who had turned out to support them.

He became angrier than a swarm of bees.

He made it clear to me in no uncertain terms that my 'friendly gesture' was not appreciated, because they were not (my) friends - a group of 14-year-old girls at that.

After a few seconds of processing his onslaught, I conceded that I was naÔve, and apologised respectfully.

In denial

Why are some of us (not me) in denial of our age and age-appropriate behaviour?

I am now nearing my final lap, or the starting line, depending on how you view this half glass of fine aged wine. In a few months, and within sight, I will again be seated on that rock of wisdom for my next scheduled self-evaluation.

Overall, this 49-year-old body has been kind to me. Sometimes overly forgiving, considering the abuse I put it through. Some days, I am in denial when I see the grey hairs beginning to sprout, like unwanted weeds on a well-manicured lawn. That's when I prepare the battle plan. I blend a concoction of pumpkin seed oil and avocado, then apply this thick mask to my face and hair.

And there it remains until morning.

My older son declared that this was a sign of mental issues.

Oh, the pressures of ageing! Is this the time I chase kids off my lawn, tell them to pull up their pants, then spend the rest of the day talking about how great the music of the '80s were?

Here is another ego-deflating reflection:

Last year, I was playing soccer with a group of teenagers when I received the ball in midfield, eluded my marker and advanced towards goal. Suddenly I heard a snap and then felt an excruciating pain in my left ankle. The guys helped me off the pitch, with what I suspected was nothing more than a sprain. The area became swollen and the pain worse. I was driven home and went to work the following day. By then, my foot looked like the Hulk's. My colleagues insisted that I go to the hospital.

That suspected sprain was diagnosed as a fractured leg and torn tissues. I spent the remaining summer in a cast, licking my wounds and planning my revenge this summer on those young punks.

Accepting your expectations and limitations can be daunting, especially when you are in a constant state of denial. Learning to let go will sometimes have to be a lesson better taught than bought.

Being that half-filled glass of wine, I have now come to accept my growing limitations. But that will not stop me from continuing to enjoy life, because with each limitation comes new adventures.

Nothing is wrong with being prepared for the unexpected. I encourage it. However, let's not get flustered and hysterical over events that are more likely to be not as bad as we perceive it. Be prepared and face the challenges.

Do you recall the Y2K hysteria? A number of people, for whatever reason, thought that the world was going to end, or there was going to be some catastrophe of biblical proportions come January 1, 2000.

As it turned out, we are now here talking about it in humour.

Turning 50 is just another milestone. Recall the fear you had when you approached 13, 21, 30, and 40? Your life entered a new phase that turned out to be more exciting than its predecessor. During the stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and senior citizen, each of these phases will have its own restricted space from where we should gracefully ease ourselves as we transition into the next life phase. Sometimes you will find that you continue the same activities, but at a more moderate pace.

Life experiences should be translated into wisdom and referenced along your journey.

Appreciate your new environment; it offers an abundance of new, uncharted and exciting levels of opportunities that should be embraced with an open mind, warm heart and welcoming arms.