Ashes to ashes, dust to… Hey, not so fast!

imageThis summer I’ll turn 50.

There. I said it.

The truth is, I haven’t given it much thought because I don’t feel 50. Sure, there are some days I roll out of bed, walk to the bathroom and realize the creaking and popping sounds I hear aren’t coming from the floorboards. And yes, I’ve noticed when I’m cleaning out my razor it looks like someone used it to shave our neighbor’s grey Schnauzer. But most days I throw on a rocker T-shirt or slim-fit dress shirt, leave it untucked over my jeans, lace up my superhero Vans or hiking boots and am on my way.

Then I rush back in for a second trip to the rest room.

But still… I’m technically on my way.

However, over the last several months I’ve started getting reminders from society’s collective data bank that I am getting older. The first came in my email back in January, when I got one of those Singles Looking for Love In Your Area! messages. I’ve received many of these over the years, and they always include the image of an attractive 30-something woman in a sun dress laughing with an equally attractive 30-something man as they sip wine on a beach at sunset.

Not anymore. 

This time, the word “singles” has been replaced with “seniors,” and the two 30-somethings apparently found a hotel room, leaving behind a white-haired couple sipping on fruit smoothies and playing Canasta. Soon after that, I received a free trial subscription to AARP magazine. I have to say, there’s nothing like having an entire magazine full of people living it up on cruises, attending broadway musicals and playing tennis to remind you that you’re still another 15 years away from retirement. I’ve also been receiving a lot more pharmaceutical spam. Mostly for reducing blood pressure.

And for increasing my, uh…


But it wasn’t until yesterday, when I opened our mail box top find a letter addressed to “Mr. Ned Hickson” from Neptune Cremation Service, that I felt the buzzards beginning to circle. Death was not only coming for me — he knew my address! I opened it and was a bit relieved it wasn’t a coupon with an expiration date. At the same time, I was a little unnerved by a statement in the opening paragraph that read:

“More and more people are being cremated — and the numbers are increasing every year!” 

The numbers of what, dead people? Was this a veiled threat?

To top it off, there was a chance to win a pre-paid cremation by filling out a brief form and sending it in. That wasn’t the part that bothered me. It was this image at the top of the form that was more than a little unnerving…

What’s going on here? Could you at least PRETEND you’re sad to see me go?!?

All of this made me come to the realization that, yes, I am getting older. At least on paper. However, the fact that society’s collective data bank isn’t aware that I’m ridiculously happily married, am in reasonably good health and am more than a decade away from qualifying for Social Security just shows they don’t know everything.

In fact, the only thing they got right was that I’ve started taking a low-dose blood pressure medicine. And no, there are no little blue pills in my medicine cabinet. At least not yet.

Knock on, well… wood.

Given the fact that I come from a long line of longevity and late bloomers,  I think I’ll keep the cremation plans on the back burner for now (although that pun might kill someone) and think of approaching 50 as the second act of my life as opposed to the final act.

Besides, I still need to find out who keeps using my razor on that Schnauzer…




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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

51 thoughts on “Ashes to ashes, dust to… Hey, not so fast!”

  1. These reminders will come fast & furious…much like Taco Tuesday on Wednesday.

    A couple of days ago, a former mentee (not manatee) suggested I was Luke to his Rey…seems I need to trim my facial fungus.

    And your bigger concern is making sure “singles” doesn’t become “shingles”…you think the pain of rejection is scarring!!!

    On the plus side, the incontinence pads mean you can go back to focusing on drinking, not peeing.

  2. Don’t worry, Ned…the wheels don’t fall off until you hit 60! Just keep doing what you’re doing and dance to your own soundtrack. Be prepared to become invisible like the characters on “Men of a Certain Age”!

    1. Haha! Thanks Robert! My teenagers already like to pretend I’m invisible when we’re in public, so that part of the transition won’t be too hard 😉

      1. Haha…I am already feeling better. I was just scared as I just turned 44 recently. I can see all this coming to me.. but your sense of humor made it easy. Lol;)

        1. Glad to hear it, Anil. The real truth is, my 40s were the best years so far — and I have every reason to believe my 50s will be no different. The jury is still out on my 60s, though…

  3. As someone who’s turning (cough, gasp, choke) 46 this summer, I hear you.
    …well,actually, I don’t…could you speak up a little? And crank up the heat?? Getting old bites. I knew I was getting old when my kids started snickering and calling me Grandma. Sure I sound like I’m dying a slow death every time I get up off the couch. But “Grandma”?! I’m afraid it’s all downhill from here. Pass the Geritol.

  4. Oh Ned, you have only just begun to suffer the indignities of old age. A while back I was at the counter of a convenience store when I dropped a dime on the floor. A young lady of about 20 years who was standing behind me swooped down, rescued my dime and gave it back with a cheerful chirp “There you go sir!” I must confess that when i bend over to pick something up I now ask myself : “Is there anything else I should be doing while i’m down here?” ha!

    1. I had a younger firefighter offer to shlep firehose for me a while back. I told myself the reason I said “ok” was because he was a probie. Truth was, I didn’t feel like dragging that crap — haha!

  5. You know me; I’m not one to LOL. But I LOLed twice. “Expiration date…” Now excuse me while I get sad over the fact that spell check has no problem at all with “LOLed.”

  6. My husband recently got a mailer from AARP and… WTF? He’s 47. He does take bp medication, and thankfully no blue pill for him either. (I’m sure he’ll be pleased I shared this information.) Entry to win cremation services? HOW in f@#$ did we get HERE? I especially love the comments above. Still sniggling. :p

      1. I don’t know. Our development is built on old farmland and we have mushrooms that pop up on our lawn when it’s especially rainy. But at least it wasn’t an old cemetery. Mushrooms are definitely preferable to skeletons and caskets.

  7. Even though you may not feel fifty, Ned… you look it.
    So you have that going for you, buddy.

    But seriously, you’re one of the most exceptional mammals I know – and I know A LOT of mammals. Happy Early Birthday, pal.

  8. Too funny, yet scary at the same time. Nobody needs constant reminders of our mortality.
    It’s like there are spies everywhere for everything we do.
    We spent the winter in Arizona and my hub likes watching old cowboy western shows from wayyyyyyyyyyyy back. They drove me crazy, but the weirdest thing were all the pharmaceutical, life insurance, and funeral commercials tailor made for that TV channel, knowing the demographics of people watching it.

    We don’t need reminders! 🙂

    1. HaHaHa! Talk about a target audience! That’s why I try to watch Saturday morning cartoons. At least I get excited about all commercials for Star Wars toys 😉

  9. I get reminders everyday of how old I am *sigh* :-/
    I just finished doing a musical/play at school with 20 somethings…lol! They were wonderful and I had a great time! THEY forgot how old I was, but I certainly didn’t after hours of rehearsals in heels, coming home in tears because every muscle in my body hurt and I could barely walk!! Part of being a theater major…yeha! Wouldn’t change a thing!
    I remember getting AARP WAY before I turned 50 because hubby is 57 and when HE turned 50, it automatically made ME eligible (just a heads up for you little wifey there) 😉
    We are only as old as we feel… and some days I feel every one of my 52 years. But others I feel like I am still 25 😀

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