Yeah, I turned 76 last week, and to tell the truth, approaching that number kind of weirded me out. Not sure why; maybe inching closer to 80 (eee-yoo!) had something to do with it. Whatever. I’ve never been one to subscribe to the “76 is the new 56” mode of thinking, so for a while there it was kind of a bummer.
But ya know, aging is inevitable. We have no control over getting older, so the best thing is just to go with it. After all, in my case “I’m still here, Chief,” and there are plenty of folks who are not as fortunate to make it that far. Besides, there is plenty of good—and yeah, some not so good—about being a senior.
Retirement, frankly, is one of the best things about being older. I did work till 70 or 71, longer than some, so I had no problem making the transition. No employer to deal with, no commuting, no demanding clients, no traveling to writers’ conferences, no deteriorating eyesight from all of the editing and manuscript evaluations—all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. More time to spend with Jacqueline, my wife and best friend; with kids and grandkids. Going to afternoon Padres games on weekdays. Reading books—lots of books—for fun after collecting them for years.
Also—to use a cliché—I truly learned how to make lemonade out of lemons. Getting stuck at home after the start of the pandemic, I rediscovered my love of writing after a long hiatus. By next month I will have finished my second novel in two years, and already a new one is percolating in my (warped) brain. As Tevye once said in Fiddler on the Roof, “That would be the sweetest thing of all.”
Tevye also once said, “That I can tell you in one word.” His word was tradition. My word for “the bad” is HEALTH. No matter how strong, how healthy, how “in shape” we are in our younger years, aging does wreak havoc with our bodies. My amazing bride has endured a number of health issues over the past couple of decades, and still wages battles with some of them, As for me, among a variety of many other ailments that I’d need a scroll to list, I survived quadruple bypass surgery in my 60s. Various aches and pains enable me to support the stockholders of Blu Emu, Voltaren, and Tylenol. And let’s not even talk about what it feels like to get out of bed every morning. Oy!
But to reiterate, the mantra that Jacqueline and I recite quite often is, “We’re still here, Chief.” And as Nuke LaLoosh said in Bull Durham, “I’m just happy to be here.” Me too. Aging happens, but I refuse to stress over it anymore.