I just have a lot to say.
June 3rd, 2014 by

And Now I Am 49

Like most little kids, all I aspired to be was 16 years old. I longed for it and counted down to it. I thought 16 was the greatest age possible. Even when I was older than 16, I would have told you that being 16 was as good as life gets. Oh, the independence and the freedom that comes with driving. And dating. And general flirting turned up a notch or two because of those other things. I swung my keys and flung my hair. As perfect as being 16 turned out to be, it got even better. My high school football team progressed week by week in the playoffs and eventually beat Carver High School of Birmingham for the 4A state championship at Legion Field on the first Saturday of December, 1982. The football players were my friends. Honestly, it was the all-out funnest year of my life.

A kindred spirit of Peter Pan, I wiped away a couple of tears when I turned 20. I was a little sad about turning 30. I grieved so over my 39th birthday that turning 40 was no big deal. (My friend Catherine still accuses me of partying every day for 3 weeks. So, what’s your point, Catherine?)


The jealous Catherine flocked me!

Probably the hardest birthday for me yet was my little-big sister Starla’s 50th. I struggled with it much more than she did. “HOW CAN I HAVE A SISTER WHO IS 50 YEARS OLD?!” Starla was almost 9 years old when I was born, so our ages fall in the same decade only once every ten years.

After 16, my favorite age was 41, simply because I was the same age as Delta Dawn. All year long I sang, “She’s 41, and her daddy still calls her ba-a-by.”

At 44, I was pensive, since my daddy died when he was 43, and it’s just plumb weird to be older than your parent.

And now I am 49.

And I like it.

Generally, I have enjoyed being Celeste in my 40s. The exhaustion of the babies and the sleepless nights and the potty training and the little kids’ temper tantrums was behind me. Since my parents and grandparents had already died, I had that exhaustion behind me as well. Yes, I’d rather have a healthy-minded mama than a dead one. My point is the hard work of taking care of everybody and the Never-Ending Questions with No Answers were–as far as I know–over before my 40s began. (As Little Granny said, “Don’t nobody know.”)

Even with all that exhaustion in the past, life as a 40-something was difficult. Life is always difficult. But I like being 40-something.

I like that the older Celeste is not as quick to judge as the younger Celeste. I like realizing that everybody’s life is complicated, and I don’t know the answers to other people’s lives any more than they know the answers to mine. I like that I have learned not to raise my eyebrows and whisper, “Well, if that was my child . . .” or “What she ought to do is . . .” or “If he had only . . . .”

I like when I choose not to gossip. I’m not going to say I never do. As soon as I boasted that, someone would overhear me trash-talking a Beloved. But the desire diminishes every year, because I don’t like the way it makes me feel.

I like grasping that I ain’t no better than nobody else. I like not caring whether friends are white or black or poor or rich or skinny or fat. I don’t want to be friends with people who are selfish or angry, but that is their problem. I like comprehending that is their problem.

I like acknowledging that I am not the prettiest nor the most organized nor the best mom with the cleanest house with just the right amount of clutter to look like the children had a playful childhood and are not too stressed and WWWAAAHHH!!!! I like not minding too much that I am not those things. (I do like flaunting that my mousey brown hair with subtle highlights is real, though. *Boo-ya!* Or, as we said back in the day, *In your face.*)

I like not getting bent out of shape—quite as frequently—about things that don’t matter. Conversely, I like speaking up for things that I see as wrong or for people treated unfairly and not always fearing that I am hurting someone’s feelings by telling the truth.

I like accepting that the world would keep on turning without me. Hard as it would have been for the younger Celeste to believe, my church and my children’s schools would not have ceased to exist without my activity. I still like helping, but I like laying down the burden of fixing everything.

While I say “yes” a lot, I like that I can say “no” (when I can’t or don’t think I would do a good job or just plain don’t want to) and not feel a smitch of guilt about it.

I don’t seize the day quite so often. Frankly, I’d rather savor the day.

I am still judgmental and gossipy and competitive and controlling. But I am less than I was. Most days, I feel I am creeping in the right direction. I like me better, the older I get.

I don’t read my Bible as much as I wish nor exercise as much as I should. Really, those are the only things I regret leaving undone as I snuggle my pillow at the end of the day. I am rarely sorry that I didn’t make it by the grocery store or finish the laundry or—Heaven forbid—not have spent enough time on Facebook.

Even if I live as long as some of my King ancestors, I have less than half of my life left. To quote the wise Jerry Reed from Smokey and the Bandit, I’ve “got a long way to go and a short time to get there.”

As I cling to being 49 and ponder what being Celeste means at being 50, I’ve got to hunker down and hang on.

Two days after celebrating my 49th birthday, my son celebrated his 16th. While being 16 may have been my funnest year, I’m not sure that Phillip being 16 will rank nearly as high up my scale.





2 Responses to “And Now I Am 49”
  1. LOVE this post. You deserve to celebrate everyday of the rest of your 49th year! I love your wisdom, humor, honesty, and transparency. Keep writing and making us laugh!

  2. Love, love this post! I turned the big 5.0 this April…I can soooo relate to your story!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.