I was born at the half century mark 65 years ago on October 8. I always thought that was kind of neat as it made my age easy to calculate and it meant my signature birthdays occurred in years that ended in a zero or five. This year is one of those…65. My wife told me she had trouble finding a card designated for someone 65. There are a lot for 20, 30, 40, even 50 but not 65. My son chimed in that it was simply a matter of supply and demand. I get it, thanks! However, there are going to be a lot more of us as the baby boomers (Born 1946-1964) turn Medicare age so we are going to need more cards.
I have heard all that stuff about how 65 is the new 55, or 50 or whatever. In matters of health statistics there is some truth to that. I am actually much stronger now than I was at a much younger age because I started doing strength training in my late 50’s. However in the event I need to be reminded, and I really don’t, when I go out to run I am a lot slower even though my brain tells me I am gliding along like a 20 year old. I have seen video and it is not pretty. I need reading glasses to see the comics, all my years in the sun have taken some toll, and something aches most of the time. My fitness instructor asks me every week how I feel and I always respond with, “how long have you got?” Since he is older than me I can’t complain too much. Between us we have two shoulder replacements (his), rotator cuff surgery (mine), multiple knee surgeries, and a variety of ever changing aches and pains. I like to think of them as diseases of excellence, but it is probably more like wear and tear. Sixty five years is a long time for knees and shoulders to work right.
My brain still functions fairly well but I am glad for Google and Siri. What I can’t remember I can at least describe. “Hey Siri, what was the name of that guy in the movie about Mars?” Sometimes my wife and I have to team up, especially with names. One of us gets the first and the other the last. The oddity is that I can still remember details of people and events from fifty years 50 ago but last week?…not always so well.
I have often thought about my life taking place in four acts, each lasting twenty or so years. The first twenty were birth through college; the next twenty marriage, graduate school, kids, and establishing a career; the next twenty President of MBU, loss of parents, becoming a grandparent; and the next act to include retirement. Whether it is twenty years or not remains to be seen but an interesting fact is that the longer you live the longer your life expectancy!
There are times when I resonate with Dylan Thomas’ words “Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Certainly it makes sense to eat a healthy diet, exercise, stay mentally sharp, and socialize with various age groups (I love being on a University campus!), and if none of those things add any days to my life, I hope they at least lead to a better quality of life. More often these days I see life as a long narrative, a good story over time in which I participate both as author and reader. As I age the story gets longer and begins to make more sense. St. Augustine said that when you look back over your life, the steps you take can at first appear like chicken tracks in the mud, going this way and that, without direction. But through the eyes of faith those seemingly purposeless tracks take on pattern, direction. They suggest the hands of a Creator.
Whatever life brings, on this my 65th birthday, I am grateful for what is has brought me thus far, certainly more than I deserve.