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Column: Celebrate the zeros
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

Birthdays with a zero on the end represent a milestone. 

Depending on your point of view, that is either the end of one portion or the beginning of another.

When I turned 50, my wife arranged for my friend, Jerry Ward, to pick me up in a hearse and take me to work. When a hearse backs up in your driveway, it will draw attention from your neighbors. I sometimes think about that ride and have a cold chill when I think about riding in the back. On this occasion, I was riding shotgun.

Some people think of 50 as the halfway mark on life’s journey. But let’s stop for a second. How many 100-year-old people do you know? When you look at obituaries, the age of dead men is about 80. That means the halfway point is around 40. I can see that in my rearview mirror, provided I am wearing my bifocals.

Some mornings, I wake up and feel vigorous. Then, I look in the mirror and realize that an old guy is occupying the spot once held by a young guy.

It was 30 years ago last week when a tiny baby was placed in my arms, and I felt young and wonderful. Her name is Ashton Elizabeth Blackwood. 

This week, she became half my age. Sometimes, I look at her and think of that baby that sang, danced and carried on with her daddy.  We had songs that were her songs. I called her up on her birthday and sang one for her.

When she was about 10, I took her to the Georgia State Capitol, and it wasn’t long before she tested positive for a different kind of virus — the love of politics. When she first went to work under the gold dome, she was often asked if she was my daughter. Now, people ask me about being her daddy.

She knows the leaders of the state government, and they know her. I’m a little proud, don’t you see?

I really don’t try to live vicariously through my adult daughter, but I love watching her going about her work. I think she has only scratched the surface as to what she will accomplish.

Every now and then, she calls me and asks for a word or a story to go with something she is writing. If I am even a partial mentor, I am honored.

She is funny, quick on her feet and makes certain she is prepared for her assignments. I love that I didn’t have to train her to shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye and give them a proper greeting. We may have to revisit the whole thing of greeting one another.

Children, at any age, will make you younger. There is a little fellow who came into our lives about two-and-half years ago. Being around him is like rocket fuel. It makes you go straight into high-gear.

Thank you Ashton for being the kind of daughter who makes me beam just thinking of you. I don’t know if it is the weather, but my eyes are running. I’ve got to go.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on