Thoughts on Turning 50


I’ve joked for a while about “turning fiddy” and then today it really happened. My odometer of life rolled over the half-century mark. A feeling of depression started to settle over me yesterday, and I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning.

But I did. And I went to school. And magic happened.

If you’ve never been a teacher it’s hard to explain something like this. It’s hard for most people to understand how the acts of a group of teenagers can mean so much. Many people would struggle to understand why I continue to do a job that pays so little into my bank account without ever knowing how rich I felt today.

Some of my Advanced Placement Literature students got the assistant principal to let them into my room early this morning, and the decorating began. Not your typical streamers and balloons, though there were balloons. A cardboard fort was built around my desk, rising almost three feet higher than the desk. Several sheets of poster board were taped to my walls and my history-fanatic, serial-killer, dictator fangirl had filled the poster boards with a timeline of important historical and pop-culture events that have happened since 1966. A large banner was taped to the wall and all day kids added notes and signatures to it.

There was food. Oh my gosh, was there food. I didn’t eat anything that wasn’t chocolate until I got home for dinner. Second hour, fourth hour, and sixth hour brought new waves of food. There were store-bought cookies, bag after bag of chips, soda, homemade cupcakes and brownies, and a very sweet Mexican dessert that I can’t remember the name for (it starts with an F).

And there were gifts. I feel so guilty getting gifts from kids. It’s one thing to spend their money on food they’ll help eat, but something different when they bring items just for me. I got a stuffed Paul Stanley doll, a KISS Pez dispenser, a Half-Price Books gift card, and a service bell (I can’t explain why, but I’ve always wanted one, but had never mentioned it).

I got a couple of cards, too. One of them, given to me by an amazing young lady who aspires to be an English teacher herself, nearly forced me out of the room as I read it. There was some kind of evil spell on the card that made my eyes misty as I read. (It seems sentimentality is another symptom of my advanced age.)

I didn’t have to clean up hardly any of the party stuff, either. That is thanks mostly to this incredible young lady named Daisy. Daisy plays Mom to so many of her peers that it’s almost ridiculous. She’s a girl who’s going to make a huge difference in a lot of lives.

I came home to KFC and Creed on DVD. As cheesy as it is at times, I love the Rocky movie franchise. Although the focus was the young son of Apollo in this one, I couldn’t help but focus on the aging Rocky and thinking back to the character and actor and 1976 when it all began. (And yes, Rocky was included on my historical timeline.)

Time slips away from us. There’s no going back. Few of us will end up where we expected to. Many of us won’t even travel the road we expected to when we thought we knew where we wanted to go with our lives. It really is so important to make the most of the days we have. I can’t say I regret all the dead ends I took before becoming a teacher because they all helped make me who I am today, but it’s days like today that remind me that there is no other job I’d rather do.

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4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Turning 50

  1. Pretty sweet day.! You are right when you imply that teachers will really get this. Let me tell you, from where I sit, being 50 would be a dream come true. When I was fiddy, in addiition to teaching full time and loving it, I found time to play tennis three times a week, dance on the weekends, still write lesson plans and grade papers. Twenty years and five surgeries later I HOPE to return to tennis. Enjoy 50! I am in envy!

    • I hope I’m as active as you at 70! Keep up the positive mental attitude! Always a joy to read about someone like you who embraces life fully!

  2. I’ll turn 56 this August, and can identify with much of what you wrote. Yes, sentimentality does seem to come to the fore more these days than when I was younger. When I was in my 20’s, I thought I would live forever and never grow old. In my 30’s I lived my life like it was a 1940’s musical filled with endless parties and adventure. In my 40’s I started to slow down and became aware of my limitations. Now halfway through my 50’s I too get a little depressed when I think of all the things gradually wearing down on my body. My knees are shot, although I can still walk much of the time without pain, it occurs more frequently than I would like. I’m a few teeth away from implants/dentures. My eyesight is going, and I only have one good eye left and need glasses for everything. Of course my hair is pretty much gone. But instead of dwelling on all the negatives, I prefer to see my glass half full. I’m still alive when others aren’t – Prince, Bowie, Glen Frey, etc. – all the musicians I grew up with that had the soundtrack of my life. I’m still relatively healthy, even though I just visited a dear friend in intensive care the other day who has a whole host of health issues. I live in a beautiful place near the water in Florida, drive a newer car and have a devoted Golden Retriever to make me smile. Enjoy every single day of life that you can to it’s fullest because life is short and you never know when it might be your last day on this earthly plane. And enjoy the love others lavish upon you on occasion – you deserve it! Namaste’!

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