This is the last column I will write as a columnist in my 40s. On Wednesday, I will cross over the Jordan River and enter the world of being 50.
It is merely a number, and I know that. There is something about turning 50 that I have been trying to avoid for the past 30 years.
There have been reports of a mean coyote in our neighborhood. If I am mauled by a coyote before my birthday, people will say, "He was just 49, such a young man."
If the aforementioned mauling happens on or after my birthday, they would say, "A 50-year-old man should have known better."
Some people assume that 50 is the halfway point of life. I think we assume that age is like a percentage. But if you flip over to the obituary section of this newspaper, you will see that most of the folks listed there are around 80.
If that’s the case, I’m already 10 years into the second half. If you look at family statistics, I’m not doing well there, either. My mother only lived to 70, my dad made it to 66 and my only sibling, my brother, died at 51.
But I’m feeling fine and I have more than a half-a-life of living planned. I don’t want to climb Mount Everest or swim the English Channel, but I’d like to see a little more of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged Western United States.
I’ve written and published a successful book. Most folks can’t say that. I’ve been in the White House and was in the U.S. House of Representatives for a State of the Union Address. I’ve interviewed all kinds of celebrities, such as Wayne Newton, Andy Williams, Buck Owens and Little Jimmy Dickens. If you freeze the frame on a couple of major motion pictures, you’ll see me standing as an extra.
When I was in my early 20s, I was heavily recruited by people who were in multi-level marketing ventures. They all tried to tell me if I would just join up and recruit a few of my friends, I would be a millionaire by the time I was 40. I didn’t do it and I’m OK with that.
But one of those yardsticks by which we measure life is friendship. I know folks all over Georgia and I’m blessed with many good friends and loyal readers. I’m convinced that when I go, at least a couple of dozen folks will show up and pay their respects.
I’ve put my friend, George Hope, in charge of pallbearer recruitment. I’ve specified that I would like to have all women pallbearers. George, who is in his 80s, has been recruiting women in their 80s to participate. My funeral may not last but 15 or 20 minutes, but it make take an hour or two to get me out of the church.
Enough of that talk.
I’ve compressed a lot of living into the first 50 years and while I may be going kicking and screaming into the second half-century, I’ll pick myself up and start the sprint. I may not get too far on the 18,251st day, but by golly I’ll be there.
Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column appears every week in Sunday Life.