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what’s so funny about turning 55?

Birthday cakeMy father thinks it’s hilarious that I’m turning 55 today.

Why? Don’t ask me because I don’t find anything funny about it.

But, the other night, when someone mentioned that my birthday was coming up, he started laughing hysterically.


To the point he could barely speak.

“What are you laughing about?” I asked, in the tone of voice that brings a sudden chill to the air and is accompanied by a raised eyebrow.

The tone of voice that makes my kids apologize, even if they’ve done nothing wrong.

“You’re turning 55!” he sputtered, with tears rolling down his cheeks.

This set off everyone at the table, with my sister – who, by the way, just turned an apparently-not-as-hilarious 52 – practically spitting out her iced tea.

“Are you freaking kidding me?” I burst out. My brother-in-law was grinning, my nephews were trying to hold in their laughter, and my mother just smiled and said, “He thinks it’s funny.”

I glared at my dad and said, “You know how old that makes you?”

He just kept laughing, and repeated, “You’re turning 55!”

I sighed and reached for another cookie with my still-54-year-old hand.

Then, last night, Michael, Sara and I went out for Birthday Dinner #1. (I like to celebrate my birthday for more than one day. Yes, I’m high maintenance.)

As we were driving home, Michael asked, “How old were you when we met? 21?”

“Yeah, something like that,” I said, mumbling “18” under my breath.

“We met when you were 18 and now you’re 55!” he screamed in delight. “Isn’t that funny?”

Uh, no.

What is so damn funny about me turning 55?

As I’m typing this, Michael is on the elliptical machine in the garage, talking on the phone to his parents.

This is the part of the conversation I heard:

“Lois and I met when she was 18 and now she’s turning 55! Isn’t that funny?”


I sit here and think about this for a while, and it dawns on me.

The two most important men in my life (sorry, Alex, but you are still a boy in my heart) are reacting in a way that seems bizarre to me — but I get it now.

It’s like when little kids laugh as they’re being thrown into the air or when we giggle after a roller coaster ride or after running across the street against the light.

It’s the pure joy of having survived a potentially dangerous situation.

Life is a potentially dangerous situation, and keeping that in mind makes every single day feel like a gift — especially when you’re lucky enough to have people you love along for the ride.

I am deeply moved by this realization, and so thankful for my father and my husband. I feel how blessed I am by their love — and laughter.

With hormones raging between pre-menstrual and pre-menopausal, toes stiffening from arthritis and hair that changes texture daily, I have not been particularly amused by my age.

Grateful? Absolutely.

But amused? Well, I guess it’s time to start finding the humor in it. After all, I was just named Humor Writer of the Month during my birthday month by Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. (Did you like how I managed to get that in there?) That’s got to be a sign, right?

So, for the rest of this year, I’m going to find the humor in being 55. I will share those findings with you and we will all laugh so hard, we may need to start wearing Depend.

Because, as we get older and have to deal with weird ailments and body changes, I’m hoping laughter just may be the best medicine.


  1. When I first saw the headline, I thought, she’s turning 55??? OMG. Then I remembered, I’m turning 54 in February. I still don’t feel all that mature, if you know what I mean. Congrats on the award.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thanks, Pam! I am crying laughing because I always feel the same way when I hear about my friends’ age! It’s a shock to the system to realize I’m in that same group. Happy early birthday!

      • Oh Lois, I found your blog yesterday, and I think I have found the inspiration I’ve been desperately searching for! I just lost my mother last November, and this reminded me of her reaction when I turned 50. She was almost in shock, with little chuckles just staring at me and repeating the fact! So I’ll be 55 in April, and she not here to experience that with me and guide me through it, but I’ve found the support to carry me though in your blog. Nice to meet you, my friend!

        • Lois Alter Mark says:

          Nice to meet you, too, and thank you so much for the nice words. I’m sorry about your mom, and can’t imagine how hard it must be without her. I’m so glad you’re here, where we’re all going on this crazy journey together. Happy early birthday, Robin, and welcome to the Oasis!

  2. rachel m harari says:

    I LOVE YOU. Having just reached that same “pair of nickels” status 9 days ago, I can totally relate and love how you reacted and then spun it …. Your ability to find humor and silver linings in things never ceases to amaze me and always manages to thrill me and make me smile… as these 55 year old fingers are typing away at work…. Old enough to be 55 but not old enough (or rather, not wealthy enough) to retire and enjoy the next 55! Happy B-day girlfriend.

  3. Welcome to the 55 club! I am also and so far, it has been a good year for me! I hope you find it a memorable year yourself and hope you had a lovely birthday. Nice that your men felt comfortable enough, trusting your reaction to laugh and feel free in your honor! Speaks volumes for who you are.

  4. Happy Birthday, Lois. You’re a wonder…and a very funny lady!

  5. Hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahagahagaggagahahahagahgahahahahahahaaaaaaloveyoulolo!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Love you, honey, and am looking forward to laughing with you through the next 55 years. And, remember, you’re turning 57 next month. Ha ha ha ha!!

  6. Thanks for the reminder: Laughter is the best medicine at any age and I don’t do it nearly enough. Have a great day!!

  7. Laughter is the only medicine that works. Happy Birthday!

  8. I so love how your writing just turns on a dime without losing one ounce of emotion or momentum. Not only did I share your epiphany but I am also now, as I type, singing along and “riding with lady luck”! Looking forward to one hilarious year! Happy birthday month (yeah, I noticed you got that one in too :)!) my friend!

  9. Kelly @Try New Things says:

    I will be 56 tomorrow so 55 is still younger. Interesting that all of a sudden as I turn 56 I am staring at 60 in a way that I had not even imagined.

    But as I get older, I get happier. In a real way. Happy Birthday to us!

  10. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Janie’s right: laughter helps. Happy birthday, my dear friend. You are beautiful and getting better every year, like a bottle of fine wine. Did someone say wine! And congrats about being named Humor Writer of the Month! That is so exciting!!

  11. First, happy of happiest 55th birthday to you, Lois! May you blow out all 55 candles on your cake without fire damage to anyone or anything! I can laugh about it as I’ve been 55 all year and turn 56 in May! I know you will embrace your age and find joy and humor in it…you already show us that you do that with life and what else is growing older but living more life? There is a growing dichotomy between the mind/heart and body with each birthday we celebrate, and I prefer to let my forever young mind and heart be the ones calling the shots! Happy birthday, dear Lois, forever young in mind and heart!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thank you, my friend! If you are the example of 55, then I have a lot to look forward to this year! Hope to see you soon and celebrate our young minds and hearts together! xo

  12. Happy birthday! You’re so much older than me because I don’t turn 55 for about 3 months, LOL.

    You’re right on with that epiphany. We have survived to a nice age. So far my 50’s are my favorite decade.

  13. OMG! FIFTY FIVE?? I truly cannot believe that! 😀

    Um, hasn’t Michael aged just as much in that time you went from 18 to 55? If not, I surely want his secret.

    Happy birthday, dear Lois. You and 55 look fabulous together!

  14. Happy, Happy Birthday my sweet friend.

  15. Happy Freakin’ Birthday!!! Wow, so many of my contemporaries here, it’s comforting. I turned 55 last March, and all that kept echoing in my head was my dad’s voice saying “yep, double nickels” when he turned 55. Sadly he was long gone by the time my double nickels rolled around.
    That being said, I think this has been one of the most life-expanding and growth filled years of my life, and I got to ‘meet’ some amazing people like you!
    All the best, and many,many more!!!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thanks! Happy to be in the 55 club with you, Nancy! Hope to meet you in person this year — and just laugh together! xo

  16. Lois,

    On February 8 I will turn 55, so we can laugh together at ourselves, at our husbands who are also getting older (thank G-d. Poy Poy – that was a Danny Thomas spit-take – I am superstitious!)

    But most of all Happy Birthday my friend.

  17. You crack me up and make me smile, Lois. I love this post!

  18. Welcome to the 55 and over demographic group Lois. It’s not to bad as you are only as old as you feel and laughter is certainly the best medicine for creaking joints and heart palpitations. Besides I think laugh lines are beautiful. Happy Birthday.

  19. Happy Birthday Lois! Since I am not very far behind you…. I read it twice. You are truly funny with a huge heart. Wish my Dad was here to see me turn 51 in March. Lucky enough to have known my hubby since I was 17….funny!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thanks, Beverlee, you youngster you! So great to grow up with the love of your life, isn’t it? Happy early birthday! xo

  20. Happy birthday to you!!
    I am turning 56 in February and I have
    desperately been looking for any humor in
    Thank you for always making me smile!

  21. Joni White says:

    Hi Fellow UV,
    I just turned the “double nickels” in late December, the 23rd to be exact, and I only felt old til the end of the month/year, and now I feel like my normal “crazy-ass” (Oprah’s funny term she likes to use) self !!! Happy 55th Birthday and thanks for bringing many smiles to my “55” year old face!!!!

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Joni, I love your 55 year old face and your crazy ass self! I know this will be a great year for both of us! xo

  22. Dear Lois, You deserved that award (congrats!) not only because you are funny, but because you made it this far! Go celebrate with dinner # ?

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      I think I’m going to celebrate all year! Thanks, Sheryl, and can’t wait to get together and laugh with you! xo

  23. We turned 55 in August, but no-one laughed!! Of course, to me it was just another birthday – not exciting, not depressing. I am NOT looking forward to turning 60, however.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      I hear you — 60 sounds daunting, but we still have a few years to get used to that idea so let’s just enjoy them!

  24. Wish I was 55! My funniest was 64 when my family presented my cake that read “Will you still need me………” accompanied by the Beatles singing the song. My husband had planned that moment for years. Very funny. Have a great 55 year and keep those birthdays coming! 55 is no different than 54 or 53.

  25. Happy birthday! I turned 55 on January 2nd. I love reading about all the 55’ers in this group. I’m glad you are finding the humor. Aren’t we lucky to have made it so far? Life’s grand. 🙂

  26. Happy Birthday! I found myself laughing along with your father, you set the scene so perfectly I felt as if I was at the table with you! My sisters birthday is the same day as yours and I always laugh at her age too, not because it’s funny but because it’s the day each year when I realize that I’m two years older than she is! Wishing you a wonderful year! And congrats on being named Humor Writer of the Month. (Yes, I totally loved how you worked that in!!) xo

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thank you, Kathy, and happy birthday to your sister! Hope to see you in New York so we can just sit and laugh together! xo

  27. At least they’re laughing. My mother keeps talking, in her melodramatic tone, about the big 6-0 which happens this summer. She speaks as if it’ll be a difficult time.
    OH, and congrats on the Humor award–fabulous. And a delightful gift for a 55 year old to-be.

    • Lois Alter Mark says:

      Thanks so much, Walker! You are going to rock 60, and totally change the way it’s perceived! Thanks for paving the way!

  28. love it. happiest birthday. and laughter is always the best medicine.

  29. Happy Day After Birthday Lois! As someone who speaks from the ripe old age of 58 I totally agree that laughter is good medicine. Oh, and I celebrate for at LEAST a week and usually a month for the big numbers (and yeah they are all big numbers at this point) Except of course I plan to be celebrating for years and years to come. And congratulations on your humor award–to definitely deserved it with this one! ~Kathy

  30. that was SUCH a long time ago for me! but, I feel like a kid…..after all, it’s just a number. How do you feel inside? I feel great! And, as they say, laughter is the best medicine, so dish it up, Lois! I’ll take that kind of medicine any day over the other stuff! Looking forward to more laughs with you! My BIG day is tomorrow….but I’m not saying what number because it doesn’t matter to me….I’m just thankful I have one!! :0)

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