Well, it happened. The unthinkable. The incomprehensible. After remaining 29 for 20 years, I finally turned the big 5-0 on August 23. I’m not sure how I’ve arrived at this point, but it’s not as bad so far as I’d always imagined it might be. For me.

I spent the day with my Aunt Patty in Castlewood, with her teaching me how to make pan-fried pizzas from my mom’s recipe that Mom made her watch preparations for not long before she died in 2018. It was a bittersweet day, missing Mom being there to remind me of how miserable she was on the day I was born. This was her annual tradition, starting as early as possible in the morning because I’m not an early riser, with her off-key singing of “Happy Birthday,” and then launching into her tale of woe and pain, “I sure feel better today than I felt x-number of years ago today.” I always marveled that she started my birthday with a guilt trip for something I had no control over. Each and every year, up until the year we weren’t speaking on my birthday, in 2017. But that was Mom; she was predictable, if nothing else.

Russ turned 50 on September 7. Yes, I married a younger man. What has life been like for him as a fifty-year-old? He’s working with covid patients again on a daily basis. I didn’t realize this until the past week. For the past two months, the three halls that he works on have been full of covid patients. Most of those days, most of his patients have been younger than he is. He sees, on a daily basis, the results of refusing the covid vaccine; he deals daily with the outcomes of attitudes rampant in our region that leave too many susceptible to a virus that they don’t have to battle as fiercely as ends up happening. I have very strong opinions on these attitudes, but I don’t know how to change anyone’s minds who are so adamantly opposed to doing something so simple to protect not just themselves, but others susceptible around them. I don’t know how to convince people that being informed isn’t living in fear, but being better prepared for the devastating reality that is covid. It breaks my heart that so many people I love choose to live in ignorance. I’ll probably be unpopular for saying that as forthrightly as I just did, but guys, I’m tired of knowing what covid does to people and worrying about people I love falling victim to those conditions. I know what the answer is – just not how to get those people to come to that conclusion on their own. I feel like it’s a losing battle. And I don’t want to lose anyone I love to this horrible illness.

So, that’s 50, so far. I’m thankful for my health. For Russ’ health. And I pray for continued strength and mental stability for him and the people working alongside him. Even those who have, themselves, refused to be vaccinated. Here in the heart of covid, things look daunting. Fifty, or not.