Life leaves marks, but we endure as we age

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The actress Frances McDormand said the great thing about getting older is your life is written on your face. After a recent birthday, I thought about how my face shows some life and stupidity I’ve experienced.

When I was 19, I had a lamp clipped on the windowsill at my parents’ home I used to read before bed. One night it fell off and conked me in the forehead. At 22, I had a cyst removed from my left cheek. (I tell everyone I was in a knife fight, which sounds far more manly.) And in my 40s, I was climbing down from Hueco Tanks near El Paso when I tripped, smacked my face onto a granite boulder, then fell into a cactus. (Not my finest hour.) All of these episodes left their marks.

To be sure, my guardian angel (a.k.a. my mama’s prayers) helped me avoid many additional marks of all kinds.

I had one recently and as one who has now made 53 trips around the sun, I have to say this one was not so special.

My birthday fell on a Monday. And yes, one thing we do as adults is get up and go to work on our birthday. Ironically, my 17-year-old had the day off from school for Presidents’ Day. He no doubt had more fun than I did.

My wife made me breakfast tacos and we went out for pizza that night. There were no presents as mine was parked in the garage and I had “gifted” myself a pickup truck last November.

Remember how we used to anticipate birthdays with wide-eyed excitement? Like when we were six or seven? Birthdays had this magical power to elevate us to our “next step,” and make us seem more experienced as we began our baby steps on the journey through life.

In our midlife, birthdays are mostly just another day.

But I am old enough to know it beats the alternative. Two of my siblings won’t see any more birthdays and are forever frozen in time at ages 40 and 57, respectively. Nothing is guaranteed, so I am happy to still be “Alive and Kicking,” to quote that 1980s song by Simple Minds.

My remaining sibling, Kyle, three-and-a-half years my senior, is doing great after he suffered a mild heart attack at … wait for it … age 53. He changed his diet and has been doing amazingly well. My brother runs our family newspaper in our hometown.

As this job can carry a bit of stress, I have similarly resolved to change my diet and eat a lot more fruits and vegetables. I am at the age where ignoring my doctor’s warnings are beginning to catch up with reality.

And at age 53, I feel fortunate to get to do something I love and work with a great team of people in a supportive market of readers and advertisers. I am blessed to have a loving wife who puts up with me and two sons who are becoming good, decent young men.

So yeah, there’ll be a few “marks” in our lives. But hopefully we’ll leave as many positive ones around us as have episodes that mark years into our face.

—kec—

We always appreciate when people write a nice comment on their newspaper renewal invoices. Judith Synek, who lives here, wrote “Thanks for a great newspaper!” We frequently hear about what people don’t like, so it is extra affirming when people remind us that they DO care about and enjoy what we do.

I also see people frequently at our Fredericksburg United Methodist Church who tell me they enjoy the paper. “I don’t always agree with you, but we appreciate the paper,” one told me recently.

I love hearing that. I have never thought my opinion is the final word, but I believe it is part of my job to offer my opinion on these commentary pages about what I think is good for our town, our state, our nation. I think we can all learn from each other, especially when we express our differences and something about why we believe as we do.

These comments make my day. Readers, please go and make someone else’s day with a note or a kind word.

ken@fredericksburgstandard.com