Billy at Fifty

“For there is no doubt that I have lots of words inside me; but at moments, like rush-hour traffic at the mouth of a tunnel, they jam.” – John Updike

Third grade Billy

I married a younger man.

Call me a cougar. Sometimes he does. I don’t mind.  Truthfully, I enjoy being the “mature” one in the relationship.  I like being ahead of Billy in at least one area of life, even if it is merely the calendar.

Loving * Thoughtful * Kind * Innovative * Fascinating

But my “experience” only takes me so far. My words jam up as I consider welcoming him to 50.       Five - Ohhhhhhh


Resilient * Optimistic * Consistent * Gentle * Steady

Perhaps I could tell him what’s ahead… that this is the time when your eyes betray you, your body sags even though your muscles are in shape, and your mind feels like a sieve. This is when your childhood days are fewer than your married years and the songs of your youth are solidly on the “oldies” playlist.

“Middle” age – perhaps.  “The dark side of the moon” – most definitely.

Faithful * Witty * Resourceful * Honest * Responsible

But, mostly, 50 is a lovely place.  This is where you understand the seasonality of challenges and comprehend the transient nature of life. This is a time where you value your friends more than your possessions and where disappointing sport losses sting a little less (with the notable exception of Superbowl LI).

Time takes on a gorgeous patina, like sunsets across open skies. Counting your days becomes instinctive and pouring into relationships becomes paramount.

Interested * Strong * Creative * Noble * Smart

But if you know Billy, you know he doesn’t need many relationship reminders. He loves people really well.

If your life overlaps with his, you have stories about the way he asks you follow up questions (he really listens) – about how he reaches out when you’re struggling (he really cares) – about the way he makes you laugh (he is as quick-witted as they come).

I call him the Pied Piper – a veritable magnet for people. I don’t mean this metaphorically.

Brave * Articulate * Winsome * Courageous *Delightful

I watch people inexplicably drift into his circles – I see kids and adults pulled into his sphere of conversation and seek his thoughts and opinions.  His personality is just “sticky.” It’s crazy to watch, but I get it.  Even 20+ years later, I respond the same way. 

People follow Billy because he lives his life with integrity, but they also appreciate that he makes life more fun. But I’ll get to that later.

Humble * Good * Unflappable * Believing * Authentic

First, it’s important to know that his goodness is rooted in his faith.  His life and light are inexorably linked to the fact that God loves him unconditionally.  He loves Jesus authentically and loves others in a grace-filled, non-judgmental way.

No wonder he’s a magnet.

Playful * Hilarious * Inspiring * Encouraging * Joyful

Billy tells me he was the class clown in school.  He was kicked out of Sunday School once because he memorized every verse in the King James Bible that interpreted the word for donkey as “ass” – Mary rode an ass to Bethlehem. Jesus asked his disciples to get an ass on Palm Sunday. There were plenty of asses in the Old Testament.

Billy quoted those scriptures until the teacher couldn’t take it anymore. Can you blame the guy?

Patient * Considerate * Affable * Durable * Compassionate

I don’t understand how a class clown becomes a person who doesn’t enjoy a fuss being made, but I know both things are true.

Billy hates surprises. Not in a,”oh-stop-but-I-really-mean-keep-going” kind of way. It’s a sincere, “no-really-just-stop” kind of thing.  And so, I am not going to make a fuss at 50 – or at 60 – or at any other time.

Trusting * Positive * Loyal * Diligent * Fun

But blogging doesn’t count. That’s not a fuss.

This space is as much a scrapbook as anything. I wanted to mark the moment… to show a little public display of affection for this man who surprises me with the depth of his character and loves with a grace astounding to see.

Tall * Strapping * Handsome * Hot * Mine

Today we will have a little family adventure today in the Colorado Mountains. We’ll celebrate with mini-markers and try and give him enough time to take a nap (his only request).

But mostly, we’ll be grateful for the blessing of William Arthur Phenix – fabulous at fifty!