Column: Fifty things she knows for sure


On Saturday, I turned 50.


I spent the first six months of the year rather dreading the unavoidable milestone. My age would begin with a 5? It hardly seemed possible. Was it that long ago that I was growing up on a farm on the Jasper-Dubois Road? Was it that long ago that I graduated from Indiana University one month and left for the Peace Corps the next? Was it that long ago that I was a reporter for the South Bend Tribune?

I redid the math. More than once.

I am not a big fan of the phrase “It is what it is.” But in some cases there is no reason to search for a more literate response. When it comes to my age, it is what it is.

So I unfurrowed my brow and put my incomprehension aside and spent some time looking at the fast-approaching number in a more productive way. I wrote down on paper 50 things I know for sure or have learned over these 50 years.

Now I figure I might as well share them. None of us is getting any younger.

Ӣ If you are lucky enough to have a child look up to you, you are lucky enough.

Ӣ A new ink pen can make any day better.

Ӣ You can never go wrong with a frozen margarita.

Ӣ Always say thank you.

Ӣ Everyone should have a vacation name.

”¢ I’ve often wondered what it must be like to be an only child — but I am glad to be one of nine.

Ӣ A fresh haircut makes me happy.

Ӣ It can be hard to know where to draw the line when it comes to medical care for a pet.

”¢ An 8-pound cat is plenty big to fill one’s heart.

”¢ The best part about a day off is knowing I can sleep in — even if I then get up at the usual time.

Ӣ If you have the choice, ask for a room with a courtyard view.

Ӣ Well-manicured lawns are clich̩ for Jasper, but I do like the way my yard looks when freshly mowed.

Ӣ A leisurely summer drive in the country eases my mind.

”¢ I studied Spanish in high school and German in college and haven’t been able to make up my mind since about where I should put my focus.

Ӣ A month after I turned 22, I joined the Peace Corps and moved to Paraguay. Those two years spent in a foreign country so long ago taught me that I am likely to come out OK in any situation.

Ӣ I like the sound of falling rain.

Ӣ I always feel better after exercising.

Ӣ There is satisfaction in volunteering.

”¢ Not many days go by that I don’t think about the fact that my father took his own life (17 years ago). That is one line of thought I wish I didn’t have to have.

Ӣ After Christmas, snow gets old.

Ӣ Reading transports and transforms.

”¢ As a writer, I am both amazed and grateful every time I am trusted to tell someone else’s story.

Ӣ When it comes to crafting, you cannot have too much pretty paper.

Ӣ I watch more reality TV than I ever should admit.

Ӣ God works in mysterious ways.

Ӣ As a child growing up on a farm, I thought the chores of digging potatoes, picking strawberries and hoeing anything would never end.

Ӣ My level of resolve grows and wanes, but I am always trying to lose weight.

”¢ I don’t have children, but I am blessed to have a goddaughter.

Ӣ In 2013, I helped an 87-year-old man who still runs marathons and goes to the office each day write his life story, an 89-year-old woman gave me harmonica lessons, and my mother, who continues to serve others in a multitude of ways, turned 87. The vivacity of these octogenarians inspires me.

Ӣ Prayer helps.

”¢ Autumn’s crisp temperatures and vibrant colors never fail to invigorate me.

”¢ It is my specific intent to help create happy childhood memories for my siblings’ offspring. I know I am successful anytime I hear, “Aunt Marty is awesome.”

”¢ My life is a composite of all the ages I’ve ever been, and it is enriched by the friends I have from throughout the decades.

Ӣ It is important to make time for the people who are important to you.

Ӣ The meditative rhythm of kneading bread soothes me.

Ӣ I smile when I think of the games of my youth: Red Rover, Andy Over, Mother May I, Hide and Seek, Rock School, Lemonade, Ghost in the Moonlight, Statue, Running Water Stilling Water, Simon Says.

Ӣ When it comes to home decorating, I prefer an eclectic mix of furniture over matchy-match and color blocking over uniformity.

”¢ If I could give advice to my younger self, I’d suggest I be less intense.

Ӣ Hope springs eternal.

Ӣ The days I spent interviewing each of my parents at age 75 were days well spent.

”¢ I am not a pushover — really, I’m not —  but timely, sincere compliments from my boss can fill the gaps not covered by my salary.

”¢ If ever there was a time when ice cream was not my favorite food, I don’t remember it.

Ӣ My history of depression will not defeat me.

Ӣ My Kindle is convenient, but I find a certain pleasure in reading stories on newsprint.

Ӣ If I knew then what I know now I would have spent a lot less time grousing about things that ultimately I could not change.

Ӣ No matter how different we are from each other, we are still more alike than different.

Ӣ Give others the benefit of the doubt.

Ӣ Oftentimes what is needed to reach resolution is for someone to make the first call. Make it already.

Ӣ Everyone deserves a eulogy.

”¢ 50 doesn’t seem as old as it once did.

Martha Rasche, The Herald’s city editor, would love to know the life lessons on your list. Contact her at

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