Although mindful of the saying that too many birthdays will kill you, I recently celebrated 75 years on this earth. Which can be viewed from two perspectives. Looking back, that I have lived through, successfully completed, three quarters of 25 years each. Or, looking forward, that I am now starting my fourth quarter during which, most probably, I will come to the end of the game.
I entered adulthood when the adage was “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. So, 75 years old was an unrelatable level of anciency; more even than the three score and ten allotted to us in the bible. Today I view 75 as still fairly young although I got here much faster than I ever imagined possible. Which leads me to ponder how many more birthdays will I celebrate before they actually do kill me? And, in what condition? Will I be enjoying my quality of life in this quarter or enduring it?
For a few years ago I joined a memoirs writing group for which I have written almost 150 stories; recollections of life; stories of work, childhood, family and, only occasionally, attempts to wax philosophically about life or to pass along what I hoped qualified as wisdom acquired over those many years. I have now written all the stories I can think of which conform with Ben Franklin’s admonition to “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” I hope whoever reads them will find some to be interesting or funny or revealing of a truth about life or even explain, to some extent, who I am and how that “me” was formed. I suppose I will not truly be finished writing memoirs until my obituary which, my wife insists, I write myself. The only flaw in her request is that I will not be here to report how it all ends.
Regardless, now it is time to leave the past behind me. It is time to look to the future. What now, I ask? How do I fill the years left to me in this final quarter? I have long joked I hoped to be able to simply sit up and feed myself if I ever made it to 70. Members of my memoirs class, who share my advanced age, with some even more “senior”, have shown me it is possible to remain mentally sharp, retain one’s memory and still able to practice life-skills such as writing, all while being physically active well into their 80’s and beyond. They are my role models.
So, what is ahead? There are grandchildren to watch grow into adulthood, begin careers, marry – or not – but hopefully to provide the gift of great grandchildren. There are trips to take, friends and family to interact with; to support and to be supported by them. It is time to slow down, to take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life; reengage a neglected hobby, maybe volunteer, take walks in the park or simply enjoy a meal or glass of wine. There is no longer any need to either rush into or past these things.
My mother-in-law always said, when trying to decide whether or not to do something or go somewhere, that one should decide to “Make a memory”; a double benefit creating both a memory for yourself while providing something worth writing as a memoir for your posterity – if they ever become curious enough to want to learn whatever happened to this old guy to make him how he is, or was.
I don’t know what the future holds nor how or when it will end. Neither do I know how to end this little story, so, just let me ask you to wish me luck!