Dealing with a big birthday


By Bill Colvard - [email protected]



This past Sunday at lunch, my baby sister made a comment expressing amazement that I was going to be 60 the next day. She wasn’t being snotty because she is considerably younger than me, but genuinely expressing amazement.

She’s one of the few people left who remember me as a little boy. And in turn, I remember her being brought home from the hospital when she was born. It’s an interesting connection we have with the people we’ve known all or most of our lives.

She has grandchildren now, several of them, and I’m sure they see her differently than the way I see her. Sometimes, when I talk to her, I’m talking to her current self but part of me is seeing that little girl younger than her grandchildren are now. We don’t get that with the people we meet later in life.

And it’s probably the fact that I just experienced a ‘big’ birthday, one of the ones that end in a zero, that is making me more aware of the passage of time.

It seems like 30 was the first one of the decade birthdays that did that. Twenty was just a tease that I was so near 21, and yet not quite there. But 30 meant I was a real grown up. My dad had told me that’s how he felt, and I tended to agree with him. We went out to a neighborhood bistro, I ate a bunch of snails and felt very grown up, and that was that.

My dad kind of fell apart at 40, not physically but it hit him hard and he lost his mind a little, and I expected to do the same. Thanks to a spectacular surprise 40th birthday party complete with a belly dancer, it didn’t happen. It was probably the only surprise party in the history of the world that was an actual surprise. I hadn’t a clue, and when virtually everyone I knew jumped out from behind the furniture at my other sister’s house (where I thought we were going for a quiet family dinner) and screamed ‘happy birthday’ at me at the top of their lungs, I almost had a heart attack on the spot.

Which is why I always say it’s a good thing surprise parties are’t usually surprises. After a certain age, it’s very distressing. And then if the party mix tape gives way to strange Middle Eastern music before you get a glass of wine in you and your blood pressure has a chance to settle down, things get even more interesting.

At 50, I received a bottle of bubbly and a plastic chicken that shot candy eggs out its rear end. The friends who gave it to me said they wanted me to have a spring chicken since I wasn’t one any more.

Very funny. I hung the little plastic chicken over my rear view mirror and told people it was my parking permit during the years I worked for Tyson. You would be surprised how many people believed it, or were too polite to say they didn’t believe it.

But this is the first zero birthday when nostalgia for the passing years and lost years is mixed with gratitude to have made it to this point. It’s no longer a guaranteed thing. Well, it never is, but each decade makes it a little less so.

I handled obituaries for The News for about three years, and you’d be surprised how many people around here don’t make it out of their fifties. It happens often enough that I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

This new decade promises to be interesting. It’s the one that’s supposed to bring retirement and the chance at a new life beyond going to work every day. The current plan is to go live on the beach in Belize or some other third-world country if Belize becomes too fashionable, and I can’t afford to live there, like Costa Rica did a few years ago.

And of course, if I’m ever going to become the world’s oldest living Beginner Novice eventer, that’s a bucket list item that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

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By Bill Colvard

[email protected]

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

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