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What Do I Think?

When did it happen? Can any of you who have been around as long as I have remember when it happened? When was that point in our lives when we wanted time to slow down a bit, and why did it start speeding up instead?

Remember when we were kids and couldn’t wait to be older, so we could stay up a little later, or could do things without our parents or a babysitter? I remember asking to go see a movie and hearing my parents ask me the question, (Get ready my fellow Catholic School and Religious Ed. classmates … do you remember the U & E?) “What does the Union and Echo say?” (The Union and Echo was the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo’s Weekly publication which had its own classification and rating of movies, which our parents went by, pardon the pun, religiously. Many of those ratings dealt with your age, much like the movie ratings of today, but the Union and Echo took other components of a movie into consideration. Language, Morality, and Violence, were just some examples of what they considered when rating a movie. So, our parents were off the hook regarding a Yes or No to our asking to go to a movie. The Union and Echo answered for them.)

Later in our lives, the desire to become older raged on as we neared 16, and couldn’t wait to get our learner’s permit, then driver’s license, and then we were impatient to turn 18 … yes, it was eighteen in my day, when you could have that first (?), (or at least first “legal”) beer. Eighteen also put us in the voting booths for the first time, and though this next thing wasn’t something we joyfully awaited, it did bring a little nervous anticipation, as many of us faced the military draft lottery when we turned eighteen as well.

Time went on and we didn’t mind getting older. Our 20s were pretty fun. Many of us found ourselves employment wise, maybe marital and/or parental wise too. We thought we could stay up all night, and we felt invincible, and could tackle anyone and everything that life was going to throw at us. Then, we hit our thirties and maybe our financial situation got a little better because our loans were paid off, and we were getting a pay raise every so often. We, also, began realizing we needed more than two hours of sleep a night, so we began to settle down a bit. But then our forties approached and some began to think that was the beginning of the downward side of life. (Remember growing up, anyone forty or over was part of “The Establishment,” our “enemies” during our teenage years.) Toward the end of our forties, some began to start thinking about, and counting, years/months/days toward retirement, another milestone of life, so the “depression” and disparity of turning forty and fifty gave way to an anticipation of not having to work anymore.

As 60 approached the excitement built even more and we started looking through brochures of places to go in winters, and vacations we’ve always wanted to take. The sixties was an up and down ride, as we started seeing our doctors more, but were excitedly awaiting the magic 62, when we could, if we wanted to, retire, if we hadn’t done so already (I “officially” retired at 55, but have worked ever since.) I keep looking for the box to check on surveys that lists me as retired but still working, but nothing so far. And then 65 is just around the corner and we wonder, where the time has gone, and how we can get the clocks to slow down because we still have a lot to do in this life and don’t want to check out any time soon. This brings me to the very point where I am in my life today.

Tomorrow is my 65th birthday. I guess you could say I will be reaching a milestone in my life and I’m fortunate to be able to reach it. But all that glitters may, or may not, be gold. Let me explain. Have you ever noticed that on surveys and questionnaires, your opinion seems to stop being important when you turn 65? There are always age groups listed on surveys with a range where they want the people within that range to check a box so they can determine some kind of data report when compiling the responses they receive. The last age group range listed is usually for ages 55 to 64. It kind of makes me feel that no one will care what I think anymore, or that they think I might be too senile to be able to respond to any questions not pertaining to the Three “P”s (Pain, Pills, and Poop), but that might not necessarily be a bad thing either. Does this mean I now get a free pass and get to say whatever I want under the blanket of protection of being excused because I’m 65 years old, and am probably too old and senile to understand the question and/or answer it sanely? I see this as a win-win situation. If I make sense people will be amazed that I can still think rationally at my age and if I don’t sound like I’m making sense, or I sound all gruff and grumbling, I have a built in excusable reason of my being a crotchety old man who’s too old to know what he’s talking about. So even though surveys don’t want to know what I think, my age now gives me the perk of saying what I think anyway, with no restrictions or reprisals, as I carry my new built-in protection shield of being too old that people won’t care anyway.

At any rate, now that I’m reaching this age of transition, if you will, please don’t pity me, feel sorry for me, or patronize me for my age. I’m proud I can still run (though not real fast), I can still hit fly balls and grounders, [a little arthritis in the shoulder has taken about three to five (give or take 30 to 50 miles off of my fastball though), I can do odd jobs around the house, shovel my own walkway (though I’d gladly give that one up soon), and I can still get a few answers correct on each episode of Jeopardy I watch. Bottom line, I’m still able, and sharp as a dull tack, at least in my mind. (Please don’t count those times I go from the living room to the kitchen and forget why, when I get there.)

I wouldn’t mind things slowing down a bit though. The years seem to have picked up too much speed. What was a 365 day year when I was 10 and I wanted it to be more like 165 days but it seemed like it was really 565 days, now seems like it is 165 days when I’d like it to feel like 565. I’ll take whatever I have left though, and be grateful for the time and opportunities to do what I can do, and remember what I can remember, and think what I can think, whether or not anyone else thinks it is worthwhile or not. Longevity is … shoot! I forgot what I was going to say. They say when you get older, the memory is the second thing to go (though don’t count my Great Aunt Mary in that, who’s 30 years my senior (I won’t tell her real age) and is as sharp as a very SHARP tack). And BTW, I can’t remember what the first thing to go is! Oh, well … one out of two ain’t bad!

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