In a sense I’ve waited for this all my life. When I was a kid, I remember asking one of my Uncles: “What does life expectancy mean?” He looked a me for a minute or two and then produced an Almanac and showed me a chart. It told me that for those born in 1951, the “life expectancy” was to live to be 65 years old. I remember doing the math and coming up with 2016. This sounded impossibly off into the future and visions of the Jetsons danced in my head.
He also explained that I would also expect to retire at the age of 65 as well. (He had a real mean streak.) Not something to look forward to with expectant anticipation in any case. It also explains a lot….. As I’ve gotten older, my life expectancy goes up with it, and so I can now reasonably expect to life to the ripe old age of 80, but the idea that I was going to die in 2016 has been with me so long that if I manage to survive until 2017, I’ll think of myself as a winner……
The age of 65 also was for years the popular notion of when one became a “senior citizen”. It was also an event that was going to happen in the next century, which made it sound so distant that even trying to grasp it seemed pointless. I don’t have a very good sense of time much beyond tapping my feet.
Being a member of the generation that wasn’t supposed to trust anyone over 30 was also a factor in this sort of contemplation. As the date crept nearer to actually happening it also occurred to me that I’d have a few years with a gap in role models, since my father passed on when he was 45 and neither my stepfather, nor my other male role models lived beyond the age of 56. I didn’t meet my grandfather until he was 72 and so I’d have a gap where I was just making things up. What if someone were to tell me: “Why don’t you act your age?”
Since I’ve never understood exactly what that means in any case, this probably wasn’t a problem.
By the time you get to be this old, you’ve already faced a number of milestones, which passed by in a flash, and left you feeling no different than the day before. So far I’ve been 65 for all of 14 hours and I haven’t noticed anything different. Maybe some of my more experienced friends can clue me in?
All of the above should actually be viewed as a testimony to the fact that I’m quite happy just to be here. Somehow I find it amusing, if that hasn’t been apparent. That doesn’t mean that I treat this lightly.
In the late 80’s I was hit by a drunk driver while walking across the street and a good friend of mine (who I shared a birthday with) ended up in a coma and then passed on. The next morning I managed to find my way outdoors and when the sun hit my face, I told myself that for the rest of my life I would not take a single day for granted.
I’m certain I have failed to live up to this more than a few times, but in general, it remains my mantra. I try to turn all the day to day events into little life affirming rituals that at some point I will wish that I could still perform.
One thing I’m really happy about is that I’ve noticed I’ve become more aware of the little things that make life worthwhile. I’m sure many of you have noticed this as well. Anything worth doing is worth doing as if was the very last time you are going to do it. All that means is that you are paying attention.
What more could one ask?