Why has turning 51 made me wanna be a grandpa?

So what has celebrating another birthday yesterday meant for me, other than turning from 50 to 51?

First and foremost, I have well and truly left my fortuitous 40’s behind!

Last year when I wrote about turning the “Big Five-O” and what it meant, I could still say tongue-in-cheek that I’m in my “late 40s”. Even loved ones who knew better would at least indulge me with a whimsical look or a conciliatory grin (or was it a groan?).

But now that I’m 51, there’s just no denying the truth — I am well and truly into my 50s with no way to turn back the clock!

And, if God so wills, I am now irreversibly stepping forth into my twilight years, with more yesterdays to reminisce than tomorrows to look ahead to.

This brings me to my second musing about turning 51.

I made it to 51. But some I know, didn’t.

man love people woman
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In a sense, every birthday I get to celebrate means I have triumphantly survived another year on God’s green earth, a gift I know not everyone gets to share.

Even now I still recall with a heavy heart a post I wrote two years ago of three young men who died in their early 30’s. Two of them were my former schoolmates.

And back in June 2018 when I stood up for the first time at a funeral to say a few words of farewell to an ex-classmate and dear friend? Let’s just say I didn’t expect the well of emotions that erupted during my impromptu eulogy, threatening to spill out before a near 200-strong crowd that turned out to pay their final respects.

I’m still not sure how I got through that evening.

And mind you, before that night, I had already lost two other classmates that same year!

So each time now that I get to celebrate my birthday, I know it’s another year of blessing to give thanks for. Especially when I personally know people who no longer can.

Even more so in this past year and a half of a global pandemic, with Covid-19 having already taken the lives of nearly 4 million people worldwide at the time of this writing.

Which leads me to my third musing.

Gone too soon

close up photography of concrete tombstones
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Out of nearly 8 billion (minus 4 million) people now currently walking this planet, how come I get to see 51, while many more deserving folks who made great strides in their short-lived lives, didn’t?

In the days of old where kings ruled and wars were frequently fought, we have history-making names like King Tutankhamen (dead at 19), King Henry II (28), Alexander the Great (32), and Mary, Queen of Scots (44).

Incidentally, Napoleon died at 51! (Gulp!)

It gets worse when you move into the world of celebrities. The list of casualties there must surely look a mile long!

In one listing, more than 100 entertainers (mostly singers and actors) were mentioned. Famous names like Elvis Presley, Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin, Bruce (and Brandon) Lee, John Lennon, Karen Carpenter, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse, Steve Irwin, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

What’s worse was how many of these deaths could have been prevented.

Now in case you’re the sort that thinks celebrities are nothing more than ‘frivolities’ (Really? That’s cold man!), then how about inventors and discoverers who made a material difference in the world?

People like Mosely (27, The Periodic Table), Ritter (33, ultraviolet radiation), Clifford (33, geometric algebra), Hertz (36, radio waves), Pascal (39, mechanical calculator and hydraulic press), Magellan (41, Portuguese explorer), and Cook (50, British navigator)?

Any one of these folks easily did far more in their short lives than I have done in mine so far and, for that matter, the foreseeable future!

Gonna pause now for a minute of silence for all these fallen luminaries.

Okay, I’m ready to make my final musing on turning 51.

60, 59…51…5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Will I live past 51 and be a grandpa one day?

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For me, coming into parenting late has made this an inevitable question I ask myself more often than I care to.

You see, most of my peers now have children who are all grown up. Their kids are at least 18 years old. And most parents of my sons’ schoolmates are at least a decade younger than I am!

A simple mental calculation would tell you that by the time my sons marry (assuming they do) and have their first child (assuming again), I’ll be well into my 70’s (assuming I’m still around!).

And that’s a big “IF”, because I am assuming my boys will tie the knot in their late 20’s. And as global trends will tell you, most youngsters now marry only when they’re well into their 30’s!

Now I know people who deliberately choose to stay childless after marriage, so the question of grand-parenting is probably of even less interest to them.

They would probably look at me in bewilderment and wonder what the fuss is all about.

Honestly? I don’t know either!

Photo by Gianluca Carenza on Unsplash

I can only put it down to some universal and unseen longing that’s built into parents everywhere? (Apologies to any parent reading this who vehemently disagrees and feels I’m speaking out of turn here)

My best guess why this question (about living long enough to be a grandparent) swirls in my head constantly is this: each year, as I watch my sons grow, I can’t help but imagine what they’ll be like with their own families.

And if I will have a part!

But, if like me you’re already well into your 50’s now, feeling all the aches and pains of a mind and body that’s gradually “winding down”, you kind of know instinctively that it’s best not to expect too much.

Yet oh how I long for the chance to hold a baby in my arms again! And to do so as regularly as I can.

That can only happen if I’m a grandpa right? It’s not like I can just go to any random nursery, infant ward, or parent at a playground and request to carry their baby!

So what has celebrating another birthday yesterday meant for me, other than turning from 50 to 51?

Strangely enough, it’s this sudden yearning to be a grandparent!

Goodness gracious, am I turning senile already in my 50’s?!

One thought on “Why has turning 51 made me wanna be a grandpa?

  1. Becoming a Grandparent is the great antidote preventing an obsession with the past. Hope looks ahead while respecting the past.

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