When the Baby Turns 40

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Deanna K. Klingel

Image credit: Klingel family portrait, 1981. Courtesy of Deanna K. Klingel. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Our youngest daughter turned 40 yesterday. She doesn’t look 40, and she’ll always be the “little sister” to her six siblings and their spouses and a favorite aunt to her nieces and nephews. But I’m wondering how she can be 40, since I’m not that old.

A lot has happened recently that points to thoughts of maybe I am that old. 

A year ago we left our big log home in the mountains for a smaller, different style on the coast. When we built our dream house in the mountains, we were playing golf, hiking, and entertaining kids and grandkids and friends. The house was full of laughter and energy. Sunday school classes and committees met there, foreign students found respite in the bunk room, dogs played in the great room; we gardened the mountain slopes, created water falls, and a niece held her wedding there. Young grandchildren came for summer camp. Friends came for dinner and parties; our family spread out at a table for 30 next to a Christmas tree that reached to the ceiling. In the recent years our friends – our age and older – sold their mountain homes and retreated to Florida. Several friends and family died. The house grew quiet.

First it was my dad. Then this year, my mother, my youngest brother, a son-in-law, and many friends or their spouses. After 20 years of golfing, hiking, traveling, and entertaining, our lifestyle changed. Our grandchildren grew up. The younger ones are busy exploring elsewhere. Our golf outings were in front of the Golf Channel, and we found excuses to not hike the craggy mountain elevations. It was time for a change.

I follow a Facebook page for my hometown in Michigan. Posts feature antique  pictures of the town, old school pictures, and comments that begin, “Does anyone remember …” I realize I’m one of the older generations who remember. Many of our classmates or spouses have died.

So, I’m facing facts. I can’t stop time. My baby is 40. I don’t like my fuzzy snow-white hair, but I really am that old. What does this new phase look like?

I walk every day. Not mountain hiking, but flat sidewalk-walking. Not exploring nature toting a back pack, but stopping to chat with neighbors, admire their gardens, pet their dogs, meet new people. Our gardens are flat and level. I, like my mother, still enjoy digging in the dirt. I write every day, learning new ways to improve my craft. I do everything more thoughtfully, more deliberately. I take time to keep order and get rid of unnecessary stuff. I read my Bible, and pray to use each precious day wisely, to His glory. But most of all, I’m using my time, enjoying it.

After all, I really am that old. I’m the same age as Abraham when the Lord sent him out to work. For the next 25 years!


Copyright 2019 Deanna K. Klingel

About the author: Deanna K. Klingel is the author of  books for young and young-at-heart readers. She attends conferences and book festivals, speaks at schools, museums, historical events, and libraries, and inspires readers and writers of all ages. Deanna was born and raised in Michigan and married her high school sweetheart while they were students at Michigan State University. They’ve lived many places including Sandy Springs, Georgia, for 20 years with their 7 children before retiring to the mountains of western North Carolina. They have recently relocated to Edenton, NC, where they are restoring a 1790 home in the Historical District. Learn more at BooksByDeanna.com.

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