My father thinks it’s hilarious that I’m turning 55.
Why? Don’t ask me because I don’t find anything funny about it.
But, the other night, when someone mentioned that my birthday was coming up, he started laughing hysterically.
To the point he could barely speak.
“What are you laughing about?” I asked, in the tone of voice that brings a sudden chill to the air and is accompanied by a raised eyebrow.
The tone of voice that makes my kids apologize, even if they’ve done nothing wrong.
“You’re turning 55!” he sputtered, with tears rolling down his cheeks.
This set off everyone at the table, with my sister — who, by the way, just turned an apparently-not-as-hilarious 52 — practically spitting out her iced tea.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” I burst out. My brother-in-law was grinning, my nephews were trying to hold in their laughter, and my mother just smiled and said, “He thinks it’s funny.”
I glared at my dad and said, “You know how old that makes you?”
He just kept laughing, and repeated, “You’re turning 55!”
I sighed and reached for another cookie with my still-54-year-old hand.
Then, last night, Michael, Sara and I went out for Birthday Dinner #1. (I like to celebrate my birthday for more than one day. Yes, I’m high maintenance.)
As we were driving home, Michael asked, “How old were you when we met? 21?”
“Yeah, something like that,” I said, mumbling “18” under my breath.
“We met when you were 18 and now you’re 55!” he screamed in delight. “Isn’t that funny?”
What is so damn funny about me turning 55?
As I’m typing this, Michael is on the elliptical machine in the garage, talking on the phone to his parents.
This is the part of the conversation I heard:
“Lois and I met when she was 18 and now she’s turning 55! Isn’t that funny?”
I sit here and think about this for a while, and it dawns on me.
The two most important men in my life (sorry, Alex, but you are still a boy in my heart) are reacting in a way that seems bizarre to me — but I get it now.
It’s like when little kids laugh as they’re being thrown into the air or when we giggle after a roller coaster ride or after running across the street against the light.
It’s the pure joy of having survived a potentially dangerous situation.
Life is a potentially dangerous situation, and keeping that in mind makes every single day feel like a gift — especially when you’re lucky enough to have people you love along for the ride.
I am deeply moved by this realization, and so thankful for my father and my husband. I feel how blessed I am by their love — and laughter.
With hormones raging between pre-menstrual and pre-menopausal, toes stiffening from arthritis and hair that changes texture daily, I have not been particularly amused by my age.
But amused? Well, I guess it’s time to start finding the humor in it. After all, I was just named Humor Writer of the Month during my birthday month by Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. (Did you like how I managed to get that in there?) That’s got to be a sign, right?
So, for the rest of this year, I’m going to find the humor in being 55. I will share those findings with you and we will all laugh so hard, we may need to start wearing Depend.
Because, as we get older and have to deal with weird ailments and body changes, I’m hoping laughter just may be the best medicine.
— Lois Alter Mark
Lois Alter Mark blogs at Midlife at the Oasis and The Huffington Post. In December, she was named the top blogger in Blogger Idol, the premier blogging contest for bloggers. She also won BlogHer Voices of the Year Awards in 2012 and 2013. After being selected as an Ultimate Viewer by Oprah, she accompanied her to Australia on the trip of a lifetime.