I've figured out a way to ease the pain inflicted by Father Time.
At the beginning of each year, I turn the dial forward on my age. This past January, I went ahead and started telling people I was 54-years-old, even though I would be 53 for another eight months. It gives me time to settle in to my new status, sort of like breaking in a new pair of shoes. Of course, in my case, I have to get used another very old, worn out pair of shoes. You know what I mean. I think.
Tomorrow, the calendar catches up with my claims when I actually turn 54.
I don't typically let my advancing age bother me. When I turned 40, I fled to the mountains to dangle lures in front of trout that were in no danger of being caught. I saw a black bear. I stayed away from newspapers with headlines and dates that would remind me that I'd been snared by middle age.
Somehow, I survived.
I spent my 49th birthday on the coast of Florida, soaked to the bone by Tropical Storm Fay. Talk about raining on your parade. On my 50th birthday, my daughter gave me the swine flu. She didn't mean to. My head was as hot at that cake full of candles. Good times.
This year, my wife has already treated me to a comedy club and The Vortex for my favorite hamburger. We watched the Braves until 1 o'clock in the morning. She knows what I like. I married well.
I'm a very lucky guy. Each passing year confirms that.
On the first Sunday of 2013, right around the time I started lying about my age, our preacher asked us to think of a word that we would represent the coming year. I adopted the word "grow." I was determined to grow as a husband, a father, and a Christian.
My wife and I have started something we've never done before. We read the Bible together. Each night, we pray together. It's helped us grow closer to God and each other.
I've faced a lot of challenges that have never been so intense. Among them, stress. I've put a lot of undue pressure on myself and allowed small situations to overwhelm me. Big ones, too. All the more need to grow closer to my wife and my God.
You would think by age 54, you'd pretty much seen it all. Nope. New challenges arise. You learn you're not as smart or as strong as you thought you were.
Again, I'm a lucky man. I have a family, friends, and my God who love me. Without them, I'd be toast.
As I grow older and further away from my episode with cancer, I realize it will always be a part of me. Someone is going to wake up this morning and discover they have cancer, and they'll need direction. They'll need it from people who've been through it.
So, I embrace 54.
I'll only be that age for another four months.