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First Fifty Years Are The Hardest

MY FRIENDS AND I are getting to that point in life where the men celebrate their 50th birthdays at surprise parties and we all bring funny gifts and laugh a lot. The women usually ignore their 50th birthdays publicly, and discuss with their friends whether the 40th or the 50th hurt worse. In my case, the 40th was a more unsettling birthday. The 50th was a conscious realization that youth was definitely long in the past – but where did it go? – and don’t complain, the 60th would make the 50th look darn good, so enjoy this while it’s here.

When Harold celebrated his 50th birthday, I made him go to a photographer and record the event; when I reached 50 I did the same. Now I have two permanent mementos of the time we reached the half century mark. I sort of like that. I can visualize our grandchildren looking at the pictures and saying, “That was Grandma and Grandpa when they were young.” With our two children still unmarried we sure aren’t going to look this way when grandchildren come along.

Last Saturday night we went to a 50th birthday party for a friend. I had a difficult time the week before Noah, my 18 year old son, was in the group of boys whose birthdays would be drawn in the National Draft Lottery. As there are no more student deferments we all were apprehensive about what the outcome would be. He drew 159 in the last batch of names to be called. The relief was tremendous, but my adrenalin gland worked overtime while I listened to the radio all morning as the numbers were announced a few at a time.

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From Sweating It Out To Just Sweating

I left the radio and took a train to New York City. My daughter, who was moving from one New York apartment to another, was not feeling well and had asked me to come in and help her. She moved from one 4th floor walk-up to another 4th floor walk-up: the stairs alone are an experience. When I walked into her apartment and saw the half-packed boxes strewn around, the clothes still in the closet, the dishes still on the shelves (except those that were dirty in the sink) and Fran in bed, too ill to do anymore, that was an experience, too.

The young are very resilient. By the time I left three days later, after all the work was done and the move completed, she was feeling much better and able to manage for herself. Miracle of miracles, she thanked me for coming and helping her.

Good Fellowship, Good Cheer And Good Tears

I came home late Friday night not emotionally exhausted, but emotionally overwrought. I had been worked up for so long I could not simmer down. I wondered about our age-group. We seem beset with problems at both ends of the spectrum. Our children are more of a worry than they were as babies, our parents are a big responsibility and care as we see them grow older, less capable and less self-reliant. We, ourselves, are beginning to be beset with health problems.

It was good to join our contemporaries and leave our problems momentarily behind. Good fellowship, good cheer – what a wonderful comfort they are. I laughed ’til the tears rolled down at some of the silly gifts and cards, and the tensions started to loosen inside me.

I’ll always remember this particular birthday party especially because of the accompanying circumstances and great sense of relief afterwards.

Life begins at 50, we hope!

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The Beehive is published by Sonya Davids, Naugatuck, Connecticut

I, the husband of the publisher, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Peace, insure Domestic Tranquility, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Connubial Bliss to Myself and my Spouse, do print and mail this three year old copy for her Beehive to the National Amateur Press Association.

Hand set in 12 pt. Kennerley, 2 pts. leaded, hand fed to a recently acquired 6×9 Kelsey, by that sometime printer, Harold Davids.

The White Birch Press

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