On turning 40 and joining the “Over the Hill Club”

I remember when my parents turned 40. I was 10-years-old. I remember this because they were born in 1950, me in 1980.

I’ll save you the mental math. I turned 40 this year in 2020, they’re now both 70.

Most of my life I’ve had this fear of turning 40. I’ll tell you why. It’s because of my aunt, Karen. Now, don’t take this as being any life-long ill will or resentment to her or anything. In fact, I love her very much. She was a big part of my childhood.

She also possessed a cheeky sense of humor.

It all began when my Mom turned 40, in July of 1990. Yeah, I know I’m breaking a silent code in telling her age. So be it.

Anyway, Karen and a few of Mom’s friends got together and did two things as I recall: one was having a shirt that read “39.999999 and counting” on it. I wore it earlier this year if you recall.

The second was more diabolical and public. They placed an ad in our local county newspaper during the week of her birthday that proclaimed her as being the newest member of the “Over the Hill Club.”

I remember being 10 and thinking how old that made Mom sound. Dad was only a few months behind.

“Over the Hill”? I figured their next step was to have their wills finalized and grave sites picked out.

For the 29.99999 years after that as I approached 40, I kept that club in the back of my mind. I dreaded it. I figured that turning 40 was one step away from the end and, like the club title refers to, everything goes downhill after that.

Then I turned 40. Nothing happened. I celebrated the occasion with a nice oceanfront seafood dinner, and that was it.

My body didn’t go into decay. I didn’t get dementia and loose my mind. And although I did have to get progressive lenses in my glasses for the first time, not much about being 40 has made me feel like I’m tumbling down the hill of life, getting ready to crash land and end the whole darn thing.

Having a 3-year-old helps. He makes me feel young and keeps me on my toes. He’s gotten into building blocks with LEGOs and DUPLOs over the past couple of months. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t enjoyed participating in his constructions. Teaching him how to throw and catch a ball, while watching him run and jump outside also takes me back to my childhood.

But I digress. I’ll get to the so-called point.

Getting older isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the creaks and aches and pains are more frequent. Yes, I have to get up and pee at night more often. Yes, I’m aware of the question a cashier at Wal-Mart gets asked by the register every time they scan alcohol: DOES THIS PERSON LOOK OLDER THAN 40?

Yeah, I’m older. I’m less than a month from turning 41. Now I can say, “So what?”

My son is growing up more every day, and he’s an absolute delight and awesome. We have a new house near the Atlantic we’re getting settled into. I have my fifth book coming out in a little over a month.

If turning 40 means you’re now speeding to the end of your life, I’m thrilled to be rolling along, even with the aches and pains and new-fangled bifocals.

I never looked forward to turning 40. Now that I have I can say this in all sincerity:

“Thanks, Karen.”