3/15/2019 = 1/1/1970. Yes, in this (my particular) case, each date marks the beginning of the seventies.
So the ‘sixty-ten’ decade(nce) beginnzzz …
I don’t believe I’ve ever been as apprehensive, almost to the point of DREADING, the arrival of another chronological milestone. Millstone. At age 69&1/2 during hockey, I was knocked to the ice and while lying there Drew skated up, leaned over to look me in the eye and asked, “How old are you?”
“One half of 139” I promptly answered. He looked briefly puzzled, and skated away without helping me up. (Drew is usually a really nice guy but my answer must have thrown him off).
After 139/2 I continued to watch the months, then weeks count down. I was 69.75 years old, then 69.9, and it seemed the last couple of weeks crept by, so slowly that time almost stopped. Slowly … sliding … into the wall of the Glacier of Doom. As I type this a month has passed and now it seems time is racing by, perhaps spiraling out of control, until … when/whatever.
I don’t consider myself to be a pessimist (berleave it oar else, I is mostly OPT!imystical) – but when I retired (¿hazzit been 3 years awlreddee?) I reflected upon the ‘stages of life.’ –>
You’re born, growing-up, under the care of your family, going to school, learning whatever,
leave school, and … you’re responsible for yourself – under no-one else’s care – in the work-force, with your family, until …
you retire. What next?
You’re going to die!
Just recently I considered another, not-so-depressing, stage. How about if one (me, for example) could insert another “stage” between “retirement” and “death”? Something like the Search for Magnificence, or … becoming (much more) wonderful than you ever thought possible, or … Well, you get it, right? Something which would at least seem to be another growing and viable stage, as opposed to just waiting to die. I might let you know how this goes. But at the rate I seem to be going, probably not.
Thinking back to each decade of decadence (or, in the earlier years, aspiring to magnificence before it was obvious that there is a relation between “decade” and “decay”):
I remember: age 10. I told my mom that I felt the number “10” being carved (not painfully) into my heart. I still have the electric alarm-clock which was my birthday present then. Yeah, nostalgia and sentimentality …
20? don’t remember! Probably ‘cause 21 is more significant so 20 don’t matter, much.
As well as 30 — huh? What? Could be I was about to be laid-off from one job and looking for another. Such stuff at that time of life usually takes precedence over pretty much anything else.
40 was to be a party, Betty got sick (chickenpox!) and we had to cancel.
Then, at 50 we had a medium-sized party here at our house, my slightly-older friend from Boulder, John V Fleming, came over. I recently ran across some pictures of me and my nephew whose birthday was at about the same time, my parents and JVFleming, and of my younger brother – whose birthday was/is 4 days earlier.
My most-prior decade (60) was over-shadowed (fortunately) by getting re-hired by my previous employer after about a year off. And a promotion besides! And now (the seventieth) …
I underwent my bi-annual physical @ the Dr.’s the day before, and, mostly un-related to the supposedly good news about my physical condition, I’m diagnosed with shingles! I was given a prescription and after taking 3 pills a day for a week, the symptoms were worse! Could the pharmacist have given me ‘medication’ which exacerbates the symptoms, instead of cures? But, fortunately, after a few more daze the symptoms have subsided, and the flu has taken over. Oh: Dr. G went over my “blood-draw numbers” and concluded that for someone my age, who has just come down with shingles, and whose diet seems to mostly consist of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and ice cream, the numbers were very good.
Moab. The day after my birthday. I hadn’t participated in the spring Canyonlands (running) races for 25 years! I figured I had a reasonable chance to “win the age group” in the 5-mile race. If one lives long enough, out-lasting (so to speak) most everyone else, you might win just by merely showing up. The last “age group win” I had in a somewhat major race was in a 5k in Bend, Oregon a couple years back. I was the only one in the 65-69 category. Whoopee …
Doing the Moab thing was also a “good switch-up/out” to one of my increasingly-ingrained post-retirement bad habits (sleeping-in later and later): getting up at 3:30 a.m.! THAT by itself helps put the rest of the day into a trance/dream-scape. And it was. Pitch-dark driving the 115-some miles there, and I was surprised at the relative lack of traffic. During my prior experiences of going to this race there was a noticeable mini-convoy of race-bound traffic coming from Junction and points beyond.
I didn’t exactly win for the 70&beyond crowd. Karen “Blondie” Vucich, from Vail, whose birthday was 6 daze before mine, was 4th or 5th woman, 17th over-all (of 300+ participants) and A MINUTE PER MILE faster than me! But I was fastest male in the age category. An acquaintance of mine, Tom Ela, tried to cheer me up and put things in perspective. “You were the first ‘regular’ (non-super-human) finisher in your age group,” he said.
Our son, also named Tom. Maybe Betty shamed him into it, but he came over (he lives not exactly close) and somewhat gamely “put up with” hangin’ with the oldies for the weekend (¿why do I feel compelled to substitute ‘weakened’?) He accompanied us to dinner at mom’s friend Debbie’s house – after which most of us played music (or something we hoped resembled music) – Tom even tapped on the drums some, and made a couple song requests. And then we played a really weird card game, not like “your usual card game” (I’ll try to think of the name. Deb doesn’t want to play it again – it’s that weird.)
A couple weakweeks after turning 70, after the “high point” of being the 2nd-fastest 70-year-young @ the Canyonlands 5-mile, I’ve been sick for ALL of the time since. Shingles. Gout (I had a painful almost-being-unable-to-walk episode right after I returned from Moab. A gout pill + aspirin made THAT go away). The “crud” – probably a bad cold. And ennui and weltschmerz, a constant background to the ongoing drama of my so-called life.
Surviving my first sixty-ten hockey game – Wednesday March 27 – granted, there are at least three other 70+year-olds who participate but they all “play out.” They can actually skate and handle the puck. That’s why I just stand in front of the goal and, hopefully, block many shots just by being there. Woody Allen once postulated that “90% of life is just showing up.” Before the game, I was leery and more-apprehensive than usual ‘cause the “crud” (flu?) was still lingering. The previous week I called the arena to say that I wasn’t able to come ‘cause I was REALLY sick then. So, I figured I’m half-sick, so I’ll play half the game. Fifteen guys (darn, we often have some women) showed up to play, and they’d rather have a goalie (preferably two), no matter how bad, than none at all. I was the only goalie, so I played three-fourths the game. And soaked in the tub, glass of whiskey in hand, afterwards. (I would have soaked in the hot tub, but due to the shingles (‘shitgles’) wasn’t supposed to be in any water which ostensibly could have infected anyone else.
I have been doing (sometimes trying but not succeeding) a head-stand as part of my daily exercise regimen. My anticipation of the enigma or more-like stigma of 70-ness made me think that I would not be able to do that anymore, but I still can. Stand on my head. For how much longer?
And another thing, left unsaid.
And so, unless the “magnificence phase” manages to manifest, we continue the stumbull down along the path to increasing oblivion …