Turned 65 last week. A milestone of sorts, I guess. But when you come down to it, just another day in a life that has seen over 23,000 of them. On the other hand, I’d be kidding myself if I thought that getting older doesn’t make a difference. I’m not sure exactly when it first happened – maybe at 60, maybe later – but at one point or another, I began to wonder where all the years had gone. I still feel, and in some ways still think of myself, as being in my thirties or forties. I prefer to think of my perception as optimistic, rather than borderline psychotic.
The other day I caught a glimpse of myself bare-chested in the mirror. I thought I looked pretty good, and proudly told my wife that from my waist to my neck I look like I’m in my thirties. She stifled a laugh, and said, “Well, maybe fifties.”
Which brings me to earlier this week, when I dragged myself (and my bruised ego) to the supermarket. I had just had an eye exam, and I was wearing wraparound shades provided by the ophthalmologist. Walking through the parking lot to my car after shopping, I probably looked like I just had cataract surgery. I was approached by a women who I thought was just a few years younger than me – upon reflection, she was probably a few years younger than my daughter – who proceeded to tell me, using language just short of baby talk, that I had to watch out for the cars in the parking lot, and that her father had almost gotten struck by a car recently because he wasn’t watching where he was going.
Maybe it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but as she walked away, I caught another glimpse of myself, this one through her eyes. And apparently what she saw was not the thirty-year old I sometimes think I am, but rather a genuine, certified, AARP card-carrying Senior Citizen.
So not only am I getting older, I’m actually getting old! No way to slow it down. But through it all, I try to recall some advice a friend gave me that was handed down from his grandmother. She said, “Don’t complain about getting old. Many people are denied the privilege.”