By Theresa Timmons
For The Herald Bulletin
As of this month, I am 50 years old. I have reached the half-of-a-century mark — as was pointed out by a friend via text message. By sending a text, my friend avoided a black eye.
I don’t think I’m holding up all that well. At least not as well as Barbra Streisand and Raquel Welch. Of course I was born with more droop and sag than Raquel Welch has at 72.
I’ve got wrinkles. And facial hair, mostly concentrated on my chin, which makes me look like Shaggy on the Scooby Doo cartoon. I have liver spots and floppy skin tags. High blood pressure. Dry peeling skin on my feet, which frames a thick toenail that is unpleasant to look at. And white hair. I also have to wear a belt or suspenders on my britches — I have developed a reverse hourglass figure (also called a diamond shape) and my waistband tends to roll like a spring-loaded window shade. It’s practically dangerous to bystanders.
Aging is not pretty.
But there is a consolation prize that comes with the deterioration of the body. For a small window of time, you get a little smarter. Sort of an ‘oooooh’ moment when the light bulb goes off in the brain. You finally make sense of a half-century of living, you have a trickle of wisdom to share, and a few precious years of mental clarity left to impart that wisdom before the dementia sets in.
I know stuff. Not a lot of stuff. Maybe three or four things.
Don’t worry, it won’t take long to share.
First tidbit is on the subject of child-rearing. When it comes to raising kids, there is a big difference between teaching them that you love them unconditionally and teaching them that the universe revolves around them. One builds self-esteem and gives them the ability to forgive themselves, the other teaches them a sense of entitlement that will not serve them in the real world.
Second important nugget in life — get a pet. And if you have an unusual amount of problems in your life, think DOG. A good dog will devote his entire existence to absorbing the misery in your heart. It’s practically a miracle, and they don’t even seem to mind. The dog hair and occasional flea are nothing compared to what they do for you.
Third, about marriage. The secret to a long marriage? Don’t get a divorce. The secret to a happy long marriage? Have good manners. Say please and thank you and go out of your way to make your partner comfortable. (Like those polite ‘Looney Toons’ gophers, Mac and Tosh) This is one area where it is probably OK to make the other person feel the universe revolves around them — or at least your universe does.
And last — and this is important — move through life with a sense of humor. A sense of humor can change the focal point of a bad situation, and bring out something more palatable. In the scrapbook of memories in your mind, a sense of humor can create more pleasant pictures.
So be nice, don’t spoil the kids, get a dog, and don’t take yourself or anyone else too seriously. That’s the best I’ve got. I ain’t “Dear Abby.”
Oh ... and one more bit of advice in retrospect ... purchase a nightlight for the bathroom when you are pregnant. If your husband leaves the seat up, it may take paramedics and the jaws of life to rescue you from the toilet. Trust me.
Theresa Timmons’ column appears every first and third Sunday. She is an Elwood resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.