Last month, I turned 60 years old. I am still mulling over in my mind where some of the famous, “Gee, it’s great to get old” expressions come from.
One of my favorites uses the ever-brilliant word “gold” as in the “Golden Years.” I am not sure where this comes from, but some suggest it arises from the gold watches that retirees receive as a parting gift when they retire. Others say it is in reference to the golden environment of wiling away time in sunny Florida. I have no intention of wiling away hours anywhere other than here in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Seriously, I think 60 is a smack in the face about your own mortality. Not that I think I am immortal, but the notion of only 5 years until 65, is fairly disconcerting. The only thing I can do now is get really old. But I do not intend to retire unless I have to – I would be bored to death. I love my home, and I would like more time to work on it, but I know after a couple of weeks I would be bouncing off the walls.
I have picked up the annoying habit of looking at the daily obituaries. As I scan the announcements, I look at the age groups. Sometimes I swear I am on the verge of hyperventilating when I see people who have died in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. The first thing I do is look at the memorial designation. If it is to an organization for some disease or illness, I breathe a sigh of relief. That means something untoward happened, and the reason for death wasn’t just age.
I remember back to my high school days in South Whitley when our class president, Mick Bishop, was killed at the age of 17 – a month shy of his 18th birthday. He was a popular person: he was our class president, he was in sports, he was cute, he was smart, and he had so much to look forward to in life. But, on his way home from Peru, Indiana, with a couple of friends, the car went out of control and hit a tree. My understanding was that he was lying down in the back seat asleep, and his side hit the tree. He died of a broken neck.
Most of us in our class were between 17 and 18 at the time he died. We couldn’t fathom a random death such as Mick’s. We could understand those who had lived a full life and then passed away. And our concept of a full life was someone who had made it to their 30s or 40s.
It is funny how over the years my idea of “old” has changed. When I hit a milestone such as each decade, I just add 25 or 30 years to it and that is my new definition of old. My co-workers, being ever so kind, kept telling me my “60 is the new 40.” Yep, sure hope that means my body feels that way too.
One of my favorite gifts was a t-shirt with “I’m 60 and still not ready to make nice.” Of course the slogan is from the Dixie Chicks hit album, Taking the Long Way. You all probably recall that Natalie Maines made a comment about King George that didn’t sit too well with all those patriotic, flag-waving Americans. Scores of anti-free speech people – carefully wrapping themselves in the flag – destroyed the Chicks CDs. “Taking the Long Way” was a comeback success for the Chicks, and one of my favorite songs was “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
I think one of the hardest things to absorb is how fast time has flown. It seems like yesterday that I was going to sock hops, learning to drive our ’58 Chevy Biscayne, working at our family grocery store, singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You, Yeh, Yeh, Yeh” as loud as we could on the bus traveling to away basketball games, and raising my boys. Gosh, so many memories!
I do know one thing though, when my heart skips a beat or I get those little butterflies in my stomach – it is no longer love; it is an arrhythmia and indigestion.
I suppose I had better brace myself for my journey toward my 70th birthday because I am sure the upcoming 10 years will seem to go even faster. But, just think, at 70 I will have to get a new t-shirt that says “I’m 70 and still not ready to make nice.” Lookin’ forward to it!!