This past week, when this story first appeared in the on-line version of AL.com, I think people had a different image of “over 50” in mind. These photos will show you what I was really thinking. “Practical thinking” and “wise” can still look hot.
The first time I attended a funeral and recognized the make and model of the casket, I knew I had finally turned a bend in the road of life. I’d had a rough summer and had spent more time at hospitals, funeral homes and gravesides than ballgames or movies.
Years before, just as I turned 39, there was a commercial where a lady ominously said, “Things start happening when you turn 40.” Her purpose was to convince me my life was about to fall apart, and I desperately needed to buy insurance from her company, hire a personal trainer, go back to school, rewrite my will and change my brand of shampoo. She went on to explain that parents die, children go off the deep end and everyone gets a disease. 40 was going to be horrible — because she said so.
So now, I enjoy reading the magazine stories of “40 under 40.” It’s a popular topic in cities around the nation that features 40 of the perkiest, most energetic, smart and attractive folks in town who are setting the world on fire, all before the age of 40. Sometimes they give it a twist and write about the 30 most amazing citizens under the age of 30, and they are just absolutely darling.
I love these stories. They give me hope and make me feel like there’s going to be someone out there to take care of things in the future. These young people run the hospitals, tech-companies, and manage the shipping and food production industries. They have children with trendy names and matching pajamas on their Christmas cards . . . just like I used to do.
But I’ve decided a much more interesting and inspiring story would be “50 over 50.” Give me a chance to create this list, and I’ll show you people who have already grabbed life by the tail and swung it around a few times.
The 50 and beyond crowd has taken wrong turns and had to back-track. They’ve screwed up a few kids and had to make apologies. They’ve searched for deep meaning in faith and have forged ahead when everything around them has crumbled into ruins. They don’t care if their Christmas cards go out in January, if at all.
Those past 50 don’t network after work because they’re honest enough to know they’ll have more fun going home. They discuss giant thermometers on their back porches and their rain gauges and say things like, “would you care for a lozenge?”
People over 50 have battle scars from holding the hands of friends who are staring cancer in the face. They’ve beat addictions and loneliness. They’ve pulled themselves out of bed when all there seemed to be outside was more pain, and yet, they’ve learned that mysteriously, there’s still more joy to be found.
The over 50 crowd values a quiet afternoon with good friends more than a loud crowd of strangers making small talk. And their favorite work-out routine is laughter.
And the 50 over 50 crowd knows how to select the make and model of a casket. They know what to say when there’s nothing left to say at all. “50 over 50” would be a great story. I hope someone writes it soon.
Yes, Christie Brinkley is 65 years old, but even if you look worn out and sad like Christie, life can be great at any age!