Happy Birthday to me. I am not, as my curmudgeonly nature would have it, particularly drawn to my birthday. I treat it as a day like any other.
I am amused from time to time at work when I ask for descriptions from eye witnesses to incidents around town. The interrogation runs through a few salient features to enable officers to identify the person who is the object of the call, someone sleeping in public, acting bizarre or arguing or any number of activities that alert passersby to the need to call police.
I find I am in the category of the elderly nowadays. And I know this because people are described to me every day as being old or at best older when they are possibly 55 or 60. Golly I think to myself. I am now old. Which is funny as I don't feel old. At 63 I am on the cusp of being high risk simply by virtue of age for coronavirus symptoms.
Old age doesn't seem that daunting to me as I can still do what I want to do, and even after my accident and all those broken bones I can still walk, bend, lift and climb without trouble. As befits an old man I can't do things fast but I can persist in doing them until they get done.
I suppose one should be grateful for the genetic lottery and I am for mine as I have reached an advanced age without, so far, any signs of illness that so often afflict people of my age group. No high blood pressure or diabetes or stuff like that.
Undoubtedly health is the thought uppermost in one's mind and I recall old people when I was a youngster mumbling very tediously about when you have your health you have everything. At age 20 I heard them but it didn't seem to be very relevant and 43 years ago it wasn't. It is now.
I have lived with Rusty for four and a half years now, which surprises me as the time has flown by and now I have to wonder if his life is half over already. Supposedly he was young when we got him so he may be 7or even a youthful 9 years old already... Birthdays are not always portents of good times.
26 years of marriage is the other milestone and the van will put the last dozen or twenty to the test. I find it difficult to picture myself an invalid at 80 or something but I have no doubt I will be able to cope with whatever the fates have in store for me if I get to reach advanced old age. My time in the hospital taught me there is little to fear from physical deterioration. As long as the mind continues life can be managed and enjoyed, I found from my hospital bed. Experiences in life come in different forms and not being able to walk gives you a new perspective, a different point of view.
Until I lose my mobility I plan to keep moving, but aside from such gloomy thoughts I find the process of aging quite enjoyable. Things that used to seem urgent become less so and age does bring wisdom I find and with it the pleasure of my own company, a few select friends, and the time to read and think without the youthful pressures of external activity. I don't feel the need to justify myself or my choices and I have found especially since my time in the hospital that I focus more on what matters to me.
In a way I suppose it is a form of selfishness but time is running out, most apparently so and with the time left a certain urgency manifests itself in my life. I am I fear impatient, always one of my many vices, and I would rather be done with this phase of my life and moving on with what comes next. I should be disappointed were fate to intervene to prevent me enjoying my retirement travel plans. I want to start now!
My friend Webb is closing in on 79 years of age and he hasn't wasted a minute of a life lived with an aim and a purpose. You don't sail around the world six times and set assorted records without making a plan. I never was quite that self assured to assume a single plan might work for me. My plans have come in small batches, planning a trip a job and exit strategy, one thing at a time.
I promised my wife twenty odd years ago we would get the pensions we had never planned for when we lived in Santa Cruz. She had agreed to sail to Key West and a new life in a warmer more laid back location and I in turn said we would secure our old age. It was a good plan and we have stuck to it. Much to my own surprise I managed to hold down a long term job and not get lost in the pitiful world of office politics though I have been put through the office wringer over the years. That was a good plan and I tell her so now even though I wondered how I would do it in distant 2004 when I started working for the city of Key West.
Were I to be deprived by illness, pandemic, war or some other catastrophe of the chance to enjoy our planned retirement on the road in the van I would still count the past two decades a good use of time. I learned new skills and put them into practice. I lived mindfully and enjoyed most of the time living in a special place with time to take vacations in other interesting locations. I've had the company of some excellent dogs too and Rusty is always worth being around. My wife has been patient and promises me more of the same as we start down the slippery slope to the final big sleep.
Meanwhile I asked for some sushi cakes instead of a normal birthday cake in the manner of a last meal and Rusty no doubt will enjoy the day as shall I in the manner of any other day, last meal notwithstanding. I follow his imperturbable example.