Life is a funny thing, you know? I was thinking about my dad today. I was remembering when he turned 40 years old.

I would have been five years old or so at the time. I remember thinking how old forty years old was. My dad was ancient. Heh! Well, today is my birthday. Fifty years ago at about this time of night (9PM or thereabouts), I was struggling down the birth canal in that mad rush to be born. Fifty years! Damn! I don’t feel as ancient as I thought my dad was at forty. 😉

Actually, everyone has asked me that today. “How’s it feel to be fifty?” Well, in all honesty, it feels great! I feel better at fifty than I did at forty. I hope to feel fifty about the time I’m actually seventy. I’ve been lucky, though. I’ve been lucky in a lot of ways. Sure, I wasn’t born a Rockefeller or a Dupont, so I wasn’t lucky in that way, but I was lucky in many other ways.

I was born into a loving family. I had a father who was a very responsible individual. He valued knowledge and education. He worked hard to provide me with both as I was growing up. He taught me what it was to be a man. His wisdom didn’t  come from books; it came from Hard Knocks University, from the streets of Depression Era NYC, from his own childhood and young adult experiences.

I had a very loving mother who had the wherewithal to be more than the typical 50s housewife. She was smart… very smart. While my father was no slouch in the IQ department, my mother was probably near genius, even though I don’t think she was ever tested. My brother and I both got a great heaping share from both mom and dad.

I didn’t grow up in an atmosphere of wealth. My father was a working man in the airline freight industry. My mother was a small business owner. Yet, I never went to school in old clothes or went to bed with an empty stomach. My mother and father both experienced extreme poverty growing up during the Great Depression. It defined that generation. They passed that fiscal responsibility on to me.

I was lucky to have had parents who trusted me enough to allow me to experience things for myself. And while I took advantage of their trust to do a few things that I maybe shouldn’t have; most of it was harmless. My philosophy on life since as far back as I can remember has been live and let live. People should be free to do as they please within some common sense limits and without doing harm to others. That’s pretty simple, I think.

When I was about five or so years old, a friend of mine, Alex, from across the street, told me he could read palms. I let him read mine. I still remember the day. It was cloudy and overcast. We were playing football in my front yard. We all stopped for a few moments so Alex could display his palm-reading skills. He took my right palm in his hand and, imitating some shyster he’d seen on TV, he rubbed his chin sagely and said, “See this line here? That’s your lifeline. It tells me that you’re going to live to be 104.”

Sadly, Al passed on from this place a couple years ago at the young age of fifty. I’m still holding him to this, though.

On being 50? It’s great! And beats all hell out of not being 50, if you know what I mean. Wonder what the next 54 years are going to be like?

Later…

~Eric

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

8 responses »

  1. Fuddster says:

    Happy Birthday, Eric! Here’s what I used to help celebrate my 50th:

  2. Awesome! 50 isn’t much different from 40 for sure. It’s amazing how little difference one feels inside at such apparent milestones.

    Still feel the same here too … amazing how the mind doesn’t let you feel any differently … could be 18 or 25 or 30 and wouldn’t be able to tell the difference… there are some differences, but not where the mind is concerned. Still a kid at heart and in the mind. 😉

    Both of us have had our little bout with life altering situations; mine at a very early age, yours more recently.

    Either way, I think we both have learned to value life a bit more for it. Not that we didn’t value life before, but it is different now, isn’t it?

    • Indeed. Those life-changing events definitely make that first deep breath of the morning all the more precious. You learn where your priorities should lie after such an event, also. There’s good and bad in every day. I’m just DAMNED glad to be here for all of it. 🙂

  3. 50, eh? Been there, done that… Like yourself, I don’t mind getting old. Not when I think of the alternative! 😉 Indeed, I want to be able some day to look back on my old age!

    Have a great birthday!

    • My goal is to hang out long enough for them to perfect the brain transplant. At which point, I want to have mine transplanted into a nice 19 year old body. I’d even settle for a cyborg body. I could be The Slackernator. 🙂

  4. > I feel better at fifty than I did at forty. I hope to feel fifty about the time I’m actually seventy<
    You know why? Because you're not working anymore. But for real, I felt a lot, A LOT, better at 30 than with 20. Drank and smoked far too much and didn't eat well. When I hardly managed to get up the stairs without being out of breath at 26 I knew it was time to change.
    Stay in touch the next 54 years !

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