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Age-old debate

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This past week my lovely wife celebrated her birthday, though I’m not sure Brenda would use the word celebrate to describe her feelings toward the event.

Yes, she had one of those milestone birthdays. I won’t reveal her exact age, but suffice it to say she is now eligible for many more discounts than she was just a week ago.

It is human nature, I think, for most of us to have mixed feelings when we pass such milestones. On the one hand, we are grateful to have lived long enough to reach the big day, realizing that many people are not as fortunate.

But no matter how thankful we are, we’re also a bit ticked off to discover that time is not waiting for us, even though in our youth we were sure we would somehow be the first to bring it to a halt.

For the past few weeks, as anything arose to remind Brenda of her upcoming birthday, she would react in a less than cheerful manner. While she didn’t exactly whine about it, I picked up enough negative vibes to determine that buying her a birthday card that made fun of her age would be a huge mistake on my part.

I also decided against black crepe paper decorations, early bird special coupons as a gift and any and all references to anyone or anything being “over the hill.” I figured the wisest course of action on my part was to keep my head down and my mouth shut, except of course to repeatedly tell her how beautiful she is.

Not STILL is, mind you, just is.

But the woman made it a challenge, for sure.

It is one thing for a husband to listen to his wife complain about the downside of aging and say things like, “Gosh, I can’t believe I’m X years old!” or “I feel like an old woman.”

It’s quite another thing for a husband to listen to such complaining when said husband was born six years, four months and two days before the “old woman” watching “Jeopardy” with him.

It took all my willpower, but in most cases I was able to respond with a sympathetic smile and a “Nonsense, you’re more gorgeous than ever,” or a “You look 15 years younger than your age.”

That’s what came out of my mouth. Inside, however, my brain was screaming things such as “You know I can hear you, right?” “Tell me about it!” and “I’ve got socks older than you, missy!”

But having been through the same thing just six years, fourth months and two days ago, I can feel her pain. It’s not easy to realize that your hair will never again be its natural color, at least not without help.

It’s difficult to accept that the fancy moves that wowed everyone at those long-ago high school dances might, should you attempt them today, result in serious bodily harm to you and possibly anyone within a 10-foot radius.

I also know that Brenda’s pain is temporary. She will quickly learn that her most recent birthday is, indeed, something to be grateful for and proud of and simply one more mile marker on the road of life. She will soon realize that nothing’s really changed and move on.

She’s much tougher than me. So I know if I can survive it, she can too.

Plus, she has one thing going for her that I don’t have. She has the knowledge that no matter how old she gets, she’ll always be my younger woman, by six years, four months and two days.

Of course the reverse of that means that no matter how old I get, I’ll always be …

“Quit your whining! I’ve got socks older than you, missy!”

Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or

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