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     FortyThanks to modern medical advances such as antibiotics, nasal spray, and Diet Coke, it has become routine for people in the civilized world to pass the age of 40, sometimes more than once.—Dave Barry

In the blink of an eye, 40 years have passed.

Rip Van Winkle woke up after only 20 years, and found his world turned upside down.

Today, my world is fine, but where is that first-born daughter who entered our lives on Memorial Day 1976?

What happened to that tiny pink cherub, with blue eyes and blond curls?

Memories abound, as when she ran to meet me as a 2-year-old on those days I walked home at noon from the newspaper office. She squealed with delight as I swept her off her feet, her mom smiling in the background a few steps away.

Just like in the movies.

Or when the music of her cello would fill the room, and the piano, too, as she practiced for a recital.

First prom was problematic – who is this guy? What do we know about him? It was OK. She made curfew. Her judgment was fine.

And the search for a car as she prepared to leave for college. She found an old Malibu Classic with low mileage, and it was perfect – until a telephone call came with a wistful statement: Dad, my car won’t run.

Graduation, sitting for the CPA exam, marriage to a young man she met at college, followed by the addition of two wonderful boys. And then one day the announcement: “Dad, I’m just not that kicked up by accounting. I’ve decided to go to dental school.”

OK by me and your mom, I said.

Now, at 40, she is practicing dentistry in Hill City, where she and her family live, and  Rapid City.

Memorial Day is always special because we honor those who died serving this country, but the event 40 years ago still fills me with wonder.

Even today, though, she is subject to some advice from dad.

First, when my dad turned 40, there was a huge party at the farm, and my best memory was a small stock tank filled with block ice and soda. It was heaven.  Dad only lived another 21 years, so while life begins at 40, try to live “in the moment” and enjoy every bit of it, especially your boys.

Last, the sign that hung on the wall that said, “Stay calm, call dad” — you now can give it to one of your younger friends.  You’ve made it. You’re all grown up and your mom and I love you.

June 1, 2016