When I’m 64… Sheesh

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I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings, go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

When I’m Sixty-Four — The Beatles, from “Magical Mystery Tour


I have long anticipated poaching those lyrics on this day, though I haven’t been in a hurry to arrive here. No sense rushing matters. But today, Aug. 23, I turn 64. To continue lyrical larceny, what a long strange trip it’s been.

Sixty-four. Jeez. To quote Mae West, Eubie Blake and Mickey Mantle, who all used this line: “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” My Beautiful Mystery Companion keeps looking at me quizzically. “You’re going to be how old next birthday?” For years she thought I was born in 1953, not 1955, which if accurate meant turning 64 would have long passed. When I mentioned I would go on Medicare next year, she gasped. As she likes to say, she is a lot younger than me. Thirty months, to be precise.

Other than turning the age of a famed Beatles song, I don’t really feel any different, physically or mentally. Mainly I feel blessed to still have attributes that keep me feeling young — good health, insatiable curiosity about the world, an addiction to rigorous exercise, and a joy in waking up each morning and wondering what the day will bring.

Still, when I wake up at sunrise and stumble into the bathroom, grab my toothbrush and look in the mirror — sheesh. Who is that wild, gray-haired, bloodshot-eyed old man in the mirror? The solution came quickly. Don’t look in the mirror until having showered, shaved and tamed the hair — and then only briefly.

One thing that has changed in the past few years is a sense of enjoying each day and not looking forward to something happening down the road. For example, I don’t enjoy summer in East Texas. I don’t like hot weather because I love to be outdoors. The heat doesn’t stop me from going outside and working on our yard or house — or slogging away at the CrossFit gym when the workout is outside. But I dislike the oppressive heat, always have. I used to think. about the time of my birthday each year, “I can’t wait until fall arrives, when the air is crisp and the dew is heavy.”

I don’t think that way anymore, because the number of autumns that lie ahead are far fewer than the autumns that have passed. Again, there is no sense in rushing matters. As I walk out the door each morning just after sunrise, our old dog Sam straining at the leash to begin the highlight of his day, I take in the beauty of the morning, no matter the weather — the sunlight filtering through the leaves, the coo of the mourning doves, the smell of pine needles, the cotton-candy clouds peeking over the hill as Sam and I trudge up the hill.

Right now, Sam and I are essentially the same age — he’s 11 and a medium-sized dog; my Google research confirms his “human” age. Sam still gets along pretty well thus far, healthy and eager to chase a squirrel or gobble the husk of a locust, which are strewn about the streets this time of year. I guess they’re like pork rinds to a dog.

So this day will be as most. I will doubtless annoy my BMC by singing the stanza to that Beatles song far too often. The gym workout likely will include the birthday tradition of whoever shows up doing Burpees to mark my age, much as the UT cheerleaders perform flips to mark the total Longhorn points after every score. I will not be the most popular person in the gym today if that occurs. I’ll come home, shower, and then begin working in front of the computer screen on one of the various projects that keep my mind engaged, and perhaps make a bit of money. Maybe a little yard work, then a plunge into the pool.

And I’ll say a prayer of gratitude for having reached this milestone in far better condition — in faith, physically, mentally, financially and surrounded by loved family and friends — than I deserve.

What a long, strange but lovely trip it indeed has been.

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