The True Fifty

12 Aug

On our summer vacation this year, I learned that after forty-one comes fifty.

Somewhere in the middle of Vermont, Kelly and I decided to rent kayaks, to paddle and drift two hours down the river despite the rotator cuff strain in my left shoulder.  I adapted my stroke to avoid aggravating the strain.  Our “drift” wound under bridges and around low-hanging branches, widely splayed across the water, jutting out from centuries-old trees.

The following week, reunited with my daughter after her ten days at Camp Grandma, I lifted her into the air with kisses and delight, and lowered her into a plump soft chair with a big flop – same as I do every couple of weeks at home, except that I held onto her a little too long (story of my life!) and wrenched my back on the way down.  Kelly suggested I had an image of myself as a much younger person than I truly am.  Yes, my image is from last year!  But while I leaned against a heating pad in my sister-in-law’s cabin, propped up by two fluffy pillows, and my daughter played “babysitter” with her cousins in the next room, I realized that, in fact, fifty comes after forty-one.  Right after forty-one.  Am I entering an age of necessary physical caution, or do I just need to kayak more often?

I once dated a woman whose mom climbed a tree – the same tree – every birthday.   I know she made it to at least seventy-eight.  Suddenly, the wisdom of such a tradition becomes clear to me.  I mean, eventually I could prepare all year for such a thing!  She’s not just the quirky and super cool mom of an ex-girlfriend anymore; now she’s my role model in a fresh new way.

Could I make it up a tree each year?  Maybe for me, it will be kayaking.

I used to dream of hang-gliding, but that feels a bit out of reach to me at this point.  We’ll see.  If I can kayak myself upstream to the true fifty, maybe I’ll be strong enough by then to hang-glide.  Wouldn’t THAT be a glorious adventure?


One Response to “The True Fifty”


  1. Jenga for the Cottage « Are you the babysitter? - December 30, 2011

    […] is crisp but not cold.  We paddle towards the middle of the lake, and we drift… like we did in Vermont, like we’ve done in the Chicago River, the Des Plaines River, like we did one night years ago at […]

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