On Reaching #75
Friday the 13th. That’s today. It's also my birthday. So, thanks to each of you for all the well-wishes. You're all too thoughtful, really. It’s #75. As I was telling some of my USMC buddies a while ago, much of my life is becoming a lot like a dream - much forgotten and not sure of what I do remember. There are people I met long ago, for example, that I’m no longer sure when or where I met them. Sometimes they’ll pop up in a dream, people I hardly knew, and I can't remember if I knew them in High school, the Marine Corps, or during the “water” years. So many faces.
Names do that to me, too. A name of someone will suddenly come to mind and I can’t relate it to a specific experience or timeframe. I’m thinking, though, that this is probably not too unusual for anyone at 75 so, actually, I’m not caring too much about it. Because when out for dinner with friends, you know, we laugh about what we couldn’t remember that day, right? So, c’est la vie, I say.
Nevertheless, I admit 75 does feels like a threshold. Like turning 30, or maybe 50, or 60, but different. Bucket list jokes are no longer that funny. I find myself thinking about things I want to do and can, and those I want to do and know I never will. It’s not depressing. There’s a kind of acceptance about it. Recognition of the inevitable, I guess. I’m not trying to be dark here. I have all I need in this world - love, laughter, good times, good health, great friends, comfortable home, truly wonderful wife and family, full days, an 80%-blind, 7.5 lb. shih tzu named Muggles that totally cares about me, 3 cats - one of which weighs 17 lbs. - and everything to look forward to. So, no, I’m not depressed. Pretty happy, actually. C’est la vie.
At reaching 75 - I say reaching, as in making it because I never expected to – I’m about as happy as I’ve ever been. I’ve had the incredibly wonderful good fortune to have experienced unforgettable, intoxicating exhilaration so many times. Way more than I deserve, for sure. How many folks can say that? Mostly during “firsts.” My first bike ride to school alone, for example, through the woods past where Roy Wooten lived, and, Major, that huge damned German police dog of theirs who I soon learned just wanted to scare the crap out of me but never hurt me; and my first solo barrel-roll in a T-28; and when I dropped out of FSU and hitch-hiked for three days from Tallahassee to Phoenix and met up with Tony Pearson who bought me a steak and egg breakfast after I called him up at 3 a.m. and said, guess who’s in town; and when CD Smith and I drove all around the country (Florida, Canada, San Francisco, Mexico) one summer on $200 in his mother’s Corvair Monza eating Vidalia onion and mustard sandwiches; and when walking up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon feeling my legs go weak at a sight I would never have believed could exist if someone had only told me about it; and when on final approach arriving back at Tampa Airport after over a year in Vietnam; and, yes, on my first kiss with Pam. Sure, there’re also decisions I made that were - shall we say - questionable, but looking in the rearview mirror now, I don’t have any real regrets.
So, upon reaching 75, I guess I find myself sharing these thoughts with you because it is a threshold, perhaps as it will be or was for you, and I want you to know, it’s ok. No, some of those items on my bucket list will never have a line scratched through them. Some were not practical even at 40, but I refuse to take them off. You know, maybe, somehow. But, the good thing is, I know there are things yet to experience I haven’t even thought of. That’s what keeps me getting up each day. Large or small, my life delivers a surprise every day that I could never have fathomed. I’m certainly ok with that, and happy on birthday #75. For what it’s worth.
Thank you for all those well wishes. Sincerely. And, many Happy birthdays to you, too!