Saturday, October 03, 2015

The 49 Club

Birth Date: November 19, 1831
Death Date: September 19, 1881, age 49

It was August 7, 1962 when the seminary professor turned 49, He had three children, a son and two daughters; the daughters still lived at home while the son had joined the military the year before. He had a college degree, a master's degree, a doctorate; his students may have addressed him as "Doctor", but his first grandchild, scheduled to arrive in the fall of 1966, would just call him Grandpa. From the days in which I became aware of the world around me, my Grandpa Mac was always loved, but always old. What did I know, I was a kid at the time.

Birth Date: May 19, 1951
Death Date: April 15, 2001, age 49

My mother turned 49 on April 21, 1990. She had four children, two grandchildren; all four of her children were out of high school, and her oldest son was mere months from graduating Bowling Green State University with a (useless) degree in secondary education, ironically named a B.S. If you had asked me at the time, I would have told you my mother was old. I was 23.

Birth Date: September 24, 1948
Death Date: May 28, 1998, age 49

My father turned 49 on February 7, 1992. He had four children, three grandchildren; his oldest son was working at a pizza restaurant, mere months away from losing his job after an argument with his manager. If you had asked me I would have said yeah, my father was old. I was 25.

Birth Date: February 8, 1958
Death Date: June 15, 2007, age 49

The day was April 6, 2001. I remember it only too well. I came home from my job at a local chocolate factory to be the recipient of a call from my mother to the effect that my beloved friend, confidante, and sister to my father, Evelyn, had suffered two heart attacks. Did I get the email? I hung up with her quickly in order to engage the dial-up modem on my computer, only to realize that Evelyn was always the one who sent the emails.

I received another call not long after, again from my mother. Evelyn was being taken off life-support. She was gone.

I sat on the end of my bed and my wife of two years laid her head on my shoulder. My emotions swirled as a funnel cloud swirls and bears down on the flat Kansas farmland. Evelyn was gone. Damn. But she wasn't that old! I was 34. Evelyn was 49.

And now.... I am 49 years old. When I graduated from college 25 years ago, 49 was still old. Now? People my age have children out of college, they have grandchildren, some of those people my age have even died.

I am the father of two teenagers, 15 and 13, although the parenting experience is a little different for me due to my children's autism. I walk slower, my knees usually hurt like hell, two fingers on my right hand don't even bend all the way until I've been awake for a couple of hours. I have a couple of lumps on my body that I'm afraid to get checked out for fear that the doctor could tell me... "the news". I'm not expecting to die any time soon, but it could happen; the idea has suddenly become much more real. It could happen.

Or maybe not.

After all, I'm only 49.

(Italicized birth and death dates are, in order, President James Garfield, musician Joey Ramone, entertainer Phil Hartman, and wrestler Sherri Martel.)


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