Today marks the half-century mark for me…in the midst of a pandemic. We had a small, socially distanced, celebration in our garage with immediate family earlier this week. With all the social distancing and self-isolation my wife and I have been doing, I had not realized how much I miss being around the people I love until we had that small gathering. Being around family to celebrate also helps you reflect. And rather than ramble on myself, I am going to use some “fifty” related quotes to tell my story.
The face you have at age twenty-five is the face God gave you, but the face you have after fifty is the face you earned.Cindy Crawford
The cover photo for this post is my very first birthday celebration and here is how I look today. Greying hair. Laugh lines. Some wrinkles. A few scars. So many life events reflected in that face. Childhood growing up in Hartford City, Indiana with so many cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to enjoy my early years. The divorce of my parents then estrangement from my dad and his family for decades. The wonderful relationship with my step-dad that led me to my college years at Taylor University where my relationship with Angie began. Graduate work at Purdue and Ball State that challenged me academically and built my passion for higher education. Death of my grandparents that I had spent so much special time with and loved so dearly. Starting my work life at ACCS in Frankfort, Indiana then returning to Upland to begin my career at Taylor University that has continued for 24 years so far. The rebuilding of a relationship with my birth father, his accepting Christ into his heart, then his death. My wife’s diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis. The birth of my twin daughters, Emily and Rachel, who are now seniors at Taylor. These and many other life events are reflected in my-fifty-year old face that I have definitely earned.
The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.Muhammad Ali
50-year-old T.R. is much more laid back and personable than 20-year-old T.R. I had quite the reputation for being so high energy, intimidating, and bull headed when I was younger and that still follows me some today with people who haven’t spent time with me recently. I apologize for all of you who had to grow through that challenging time alongside me. Those 30 years of life from college to today have both softened some edges and honed others, hopefully for the better. People and relationships matter so much more to me today than things, events, and accomplishments. I tend to be much more reflective than reactionary. I hope my earlier flaws have become reworked more into diligence, memorable, and persistence.
I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you.Agatha Christie
This quote speaks so much truth to me. Not only am I viewing life differently at 50 but I am finding new interests and passions in my life. My daughters are completing college soon to head off to careers and graduate school, and lives out on their own. My relationship with them adjusts to their changing lives, while Angie and I slowly enter the empty-nester stage of life as our daughters strike out on their own. My career at Taylor continues to evolve as the university adjusts to new realities. But most of all, I just see the world through different eyes now than I did last year, a decade ago, thirty years ago. Though this pandemic challenges me, like all of you, I still find hope and happiness ahead of me as I take my fiftieth turn around the sun.