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55! Stay Alive!

Me with sweet 3-year-old Ro last week

Do you remember that highway slogan? My cousin’s husband was the creator (is that the right term) of the 55! Stay Alive! campaign when he was a highway patrol officer in Los Angeles.

Although Bob had driving in mind, I’m applying it personally as I’ve managed, barely as of late, to stay alive for 55 years. Today (Oct 1st) is my birthday. I’m 55. Depending on who’s reading this, it’s a Goldilocks moment: Really Old, Really Young, or Just About Right.

I remember when 55 sounded really old (that would have been as recently as yesterday). Gosh, I remember when 25 sounded really old! I also remember when you got to order off the senior menu at 55.

Not so much anymore… They start sending pretend AARP cards at 49. I can’t see that there are any special perks at 55 – but maybe they’re yet to come!

At age 50, everyone has the face he deserves.
~ George Orwell

There are quite a number of things that surprise me about where I am at this age and stage of life.

For one thing,  I’m surprised at where I am in life at 55. I never, ever, would have guessed I would be in Texas. Texas is a lovely state, but I’m a Yankee. I don’t like hot weather. I’m incredibly arachnophobic. I’m not terribly fond of snakes, scorpions, cactus, caliche or Tabasco.

I’m equally surprised to be a Level II Security Guard since I was always one of those too soft, touchy/feely types. I hated my first job after college as a correctional worker and left it to become the counseling director of a crisis center. So much more my style.

Always talking and always active, the quiet life of a gate guard has been a big change for me. Possibly the biggest surprise  at 55 is that I really like the peace. I think it stems from something that happened on my 40th birthday.

My friends paid for me to go on a 5 day retreat at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in beautiful NE Iowa. Because my birthday is in the fall, the hills were a mass of golds and greens and reds and oranges. It was very beautiful and very quiet!

The gift was supposed to help me learn to slow down and to be quiet, too. Nothing too subtle there!  😀  It was a surprise trip, not only because they dropped me off without telling me about it ahead of time, but also because I’m not Catholic!

Adding to the surprise, it’s a cloistered Abbey of Benedictine Sisters (I’d never heard of cloistered or Benedictine) so all my chatter was greeted with a smile and a nod. It was very lovely and very quiet. Did I mention that it was quiet there?

With nothing else to do, (no phone, no TV, no radio – you can see how this prepared me for gate guarding) I began going to services in their little chapel. Vigils began at 3:45 a.m. Once again, preparation for being awake when everyone else is sleeping!

I fell in love with the quiet and with the Sisters.

For the next 10 years, Heidi and I went each spring to help with a week of spring cleaning in the guest houses and again each fall for a week of retreat to write our next seminar.

By the way, the Sisters support themselves by making the most wonderful caramels. They ship all over the country. If you’re interested, see the OLMA link above.

They recruited us to help at the candy house one fall, but I was a complete flop when assigned to making the trademark swirl at to top of the caramel. I kept making curls instead.

We stopped by OLMA last week on our way from Minnesota to Iowa. We went to Vespers and Compline and had a grand reunion in between!

The Sisters, who aren’t always quiet, provided the pizza and Pepsi and an hour and a half of joy!

Of all the people we saw while back home, they may have best understood why we love our job. Funny, huh?

So here I am, waving in mud trucks, passing out donuts to drivers and counting my blessings. I’m guarding a gate, packing a BB gun, and assuring the circling buzzard that I’m still alive at 55!.

Life is full of the unexpected, isn’t it! 😀

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.
~Larry Lorenzoni

19 thoughts on “55! Stay Alive!

    • Well hello, Jeff! How funny (in a nice way) 😉 to see you pop up here – not too many crossover between my blogs!
      Thank you for the b-day wishes. I’ll be 55 for another 363 days, so your right on time!
      The Sisters and my time at their wonderful Abbey has been a great gift!
      ~ Debbie

  1. Happy Birthday!

    I ave a pressing Question. Actually I have had it for several weeks. And, since I went over my GB limits with ATT, reading your past logs, you kinda owe it to me.

    What is the BB gun for???

    • Mike – Thank you for the birthday wishes and I’m sorry about AT&T. I frequently have the same problem.
      I’m trying to write shorter posts, in the 500 word range – that should help! 😉
      Vicky also asked about the BB gun today. It’s only been for Pepsi cans, so far, but I mostly wave it around to look scary – I’ll write a SHORT post about it, since I do, indeed, owe you.
      ~ Debbie

    • Luke – how fun to see your face! Although I slept through much of the day, I had many wonderful phone calls and a really lovely evening! Thanks!
      ~ Debbie

  2. I think you might qualify for senior coffee in some establishments!! The nuns look like they are beautiful people. As a child I was very afraid of nuns. Especially when they were walking toward me and the wind was blowing. Their garb would blow in the breeze and I was terrified they would get me!! Then I learned about their dedication and highly respect them now. However I have to pass on the early vespers!! The way you wrote it I had to smile. I pictured a carload of your friends just dropping you off and telling you that you had to learn to be quiet and make carmels and only then could you go home. I know that wasn’t the case and it truly was a cherished event for you. I pray you have many more cherished events in your life and may age 55 bring happiness and good health. Happy Birthday my friend.

    • Jill – Actually your picture wasn’t far off the mark (of my trip to the Abbey – not of nuns snatching you)! Thanks you for the warm birthday wishes!
      Are you freezing up there in MI? It’s just after midnight and amazingly, it’s 61 here! Supposed to get down to 56! Hurray! Looks like I’m going to have to try to get into the closet without waking up Heidi and see if I can find a sweatshirt! Pure bliss!
      ~ Debbie

  3. Hi Debbie & happy birthday.
    I turned 57 last month & I still can’t believe it. I know how you feel!

    You mention you carry a BB gun around. Since we will be doing this job soon, I’d like to know what you do with the BB gun… To chase away snakes & other critters?

    • Vicky – Guess we’re not doing too badly for a couple of old gals, huh? 😉
      It seems I need to write about my BB gun again, since both you and Mike asked about it today. So far, I’ve only shot Pepsi cans. But it is one intimidating looking gun, just in case something/someone rather unpleasant should arrive unannounced. 😀

    • Thank you, Diane. The cooler weather is a wonderful birthday gift! I didn’t turn the air on all night! Still trying to remember to link you!
      ~ Debbie

    • Thanks, Kit! Looks like I get mouse and ant traps for my birthday as Heidi is off to WalMart to see if we can limit our inside wildlife to Henry! Then it’s off to bed for me! Sounds like you are Jerry are REALLY busy down there! Take care and thanks for the greeting!
      ~ Debbie

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