The number 65 most often associated with age is and has been the gold standard for retirement age definition. There has always been benchmark years in our lives. Early years we are evaluated by how many months old we are.
Once we make this accomplishment the numbers come quickly: 13 years old finally a teenager, 16 years old — I can drive!, 18 years old -I’m an adult, at 21 I can vote. The 20’s are halcyon years, they seem to float by almost as jumbled up as our teens were. Then we turn 30; we had better grow up. It is during these years, 25 to 35 we start to look down the road at our future years and say things like, “if I ever live to see 60” or “I can’t believe mom/dad is 65 — I’m so old!”
Today I turned 65. I know it is an accomplishment but I am always trying to put my age in perspective with my parents at this age. My earliest recollection of life is not where I was born in Queens, NYC but in Mineola, a suburb of the big apple where I went to Corpus Christie Elementary School, a Catholic school, 1st through 8th grade. I can remember all my relatives in my parents’ basement during parties, Christmas celebrations, my younger sister Mary Ellen’s birthday parties and dancing with my older sister in the basement with her friends. But trying to remember my parents is difficult. I know they are there, I just cannot seem to fit them into the timeline puzzle nor could I tell you with any certainty how old they were at the time.
During my high school years in Sachem High School out in Lake Ronkonkoma, NY I can much more easily see and remember my parents and their influence on my life much more accurately than before. I can see them interact with each other and with me and my sisters. I understood the pulse of the family but then I left at 18, off to the military, either volunteer or be drafted during Vietnam so I volunteered for the USAF. Between 18 and today, I can picture the birth of each of my children, their special events that I am sure they’ve forgotten, and the beautiful lines of love and worry that now occupy the face of my wife Monica of more than 40 years. It has all gone so fast. I don’t think I ever got to tell my parents how much I appreciated and loved them for everything they ever did for me. I really never got to truly say goodbye to all the friends I’ve meet and lost over the years due to our USAF gypsy lifestyle that we truly loved. We often think that we will see each other again but life soon proves itself all too short.
Reflecting back can be a depressing thing if you’re not careful. But I am not at all sad because of my age. I feel as alive today as ever, only slower. Jars I use to open with impunity now fight me. I walked into a wall a few days ago while in a high school — must have looked like a dottering old fool. Comparisons I make and words I use are met with various expressions of surprise and confusion on the face of the younger people. I cry more often. Don’t get me started on life before microwaves and television …. I am very blessed and humbled by the beautiful family I have, by a wife/best friend/BFF, and by a religion that has seen us through some very tough times. I’ve experienced war more than once, watched in absolute awe as my children were born, buried a son, my parents and most all of my relatives have passed away. The field of those of us remaining from my generation is thinning out. I look forward to what life I have ahead of me, my older sister Pat is my guide. I am proud of my life. I am proud of my children; but I also miss my children deeply. I’m in awe of my wife who has been burdened with more than her share of medical problems she suffers through with a smile.
So whatever happens to me after today I can truly say that I have had a wonderful life, a meaningful life, a life filled with the type of love you can only read about, and I look forward to whatever God has planned for me next.