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I arrived 53 years ago on this date
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If you’re reading this on Sunday, it was on this date in 1960 that my mother survived a troubled delivery and a fine doctor named Thomas Harris lifted me out and handed me to a waiting nurse.

I don’t know if Dr. Tom Harris is still around, but I owe him a debt of gratitude. I pretty much owe him my life. My mama sure thought so, that’s why his name is now mine.

My arrival to the outside world was not easy and there were times during the experience they thought my mother and her baby boy might not survive. I did, and I’m here to write about it. Not really the delivery and such, but a little glimpse of what has happened in the 19,357 days that have followed.

The good news is 53 is not as old as it used to be. When I was born, the life expectancy was 69.8 years. Think about it; without a little modern science, I would be on the countdown to 16 years left. They now predict the average person will live 78.3 years.

I recently went for my physical. The news was not as good as it could be. I don’t have a catastrophic illness; I just like to eat too much. And eating too much can kill you. If I want to make it to 78.3, I better make some changes in a hurry.

I tolerated turning 50 reasonably well. I’m trying not to let 53 bother me too much.

I’ve now reached the point that people like doctors and airline pilots are younger than me. I used to be bothered by that, but I’ve come around on that issue. I still get a little nervous when the pilot looks like his mama drove him to the airport.

During the past few years, I’ve reconnected with several of my high school friends through Facebook. Some of them already have grandchildren and post pictures of them. I’d probably do the same thing if I had any.

I have a few male friends who are around my age who have a second family. They have pictures of themselves taking their kids under the age of 10 to soccer games and such.

First of all, I really didn’t understand the whole idea of soccer until my little girl, now 22, came along. If I’m going to a soccer game, it will be as somebody’s granddaddy. You can leave early if you’re a grandparent.

I now realize there are limitations on what a 53-year-old, out-of-shape body can do. If I attempt anything strenuous today, my body tells me about it tomorrow. I have a close personal relationship with a bottle of Aleve.

In some ways, I am a lot like my parents. Sometimes, a stream of words comes out of my mouth and I think I sound like them. At the same time, I am computer savvy and can identify an artist from just about every genre of music. I do occasionally hear a name or see somebody on TV and say, “Is that somebody?”

The first 53 years have been pretty good and have gone far too fast. I’m sure the remaining time on the planet will go just as fast, if not faster. I don’t know if I’m ready, but here they come.

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

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