Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Early Old

Most of you are reading this in a newspaper on Thursday, April 7th which is my 60th birthday. My sister, Jane, sent me a card saying: “We spent our entire youth laughing at old people.” Inside, it said: “We are SO screwed.”It’s actually my 61st birthday if you count the first in 1951 at the end of which I was one day old. A year later, when I was one year old, would have been my second birthday, and so on. Today is the first day of my 61st year. I’m not just 60 - I’m “in my sixties.” I’m beginning my seventh decade. A friend reached this milestone last year and when asked how old he was, he’d say “Fifty-ten."Our newest granddaughter, Lila

The way we measure time is relative and this was best exemplified by a small sign I saw on the outside of a bathroom door once which read: “How long a minute is, is relative to which side of this door you’re on.” When I was about ten, a year seemed a very long time because it was one-tenth of my life. Now it’s only one-sixtieth and goes by quickly. I formulated a scale for age when I was ten: Up to twelve, you’re a kid. Then you’re a teenager until age twenty. After that you’re a young adult from twenty to forty. Forty to sixty you’re middle-aged and from sixty on, you’re old.

I finished “late middle age” yesterday. Today I’m “early old.”

I’m not sure how sixty is supposed to feel, but so far it’s pretty good. I’m in good shape, but I haven’t as much stamina. I can still do everything, but I prefer shorter intervals. I can deal with that, but mentally there are other effects. Sometimes I can’t recall the name of something until ten or twenty minutes after the conversation has ended or shifted to another subject. It’s in my head somewhere, but it’s as if it were on a slip of paper and buried under stacks of other paperwork on the desktop of my mind.

My hair is thinning, but it’s still mostly brown. Students ask me if I dye it and it bothers me that they’d think I would. If it were gray, I definitely wouldn’t dye it. That’s okay for women, but vain for a man. Why? I don’t know. That’s what I feel about it. My wife is a year younger than me and her hair is mostly silver. I’m glad she leaves it that way because it’s attractive. There’s a certain strength I sense in women who take care of themselves and allow their hair to age naturally.

Another thing that makes me feel older is when guys in their thirties call me “Sir.” It’s not when they’re trying to sell me something either. It’s happening when I meet them socially. I’ve never been in the military and to be addressed as “sir” is unfamiliar. Students have been calling me “Mr. McLaughlin” for decades but that’s different. The “Sir” thing is going to take some getting used to.

Softball season starts soon. It’ll be my thirty-fourth year playing Thursday nights at Westways in Lovell. I’m one of the older guys now, but last year there were still some showing up who were older. This year, we’ll see. Some younger than me have stopped playing already and come just to watch and drink beer.For about ten or twelve years now, I haven’t had a strong urge to hunt deer - and it used to be overpowering. I’ve been thinking maybe it’s due to diminished testosterone levels because I’d rather go into the woods and shoot pictures. So, I buy chuck-eye steaks at Hannaford’s Supermarket, which I like better than venison anyway. It might not be testosterone though because I still get the urge to punch some someone in the head once in a while. I haven’t actually done it for about thirty years, but it has crossed my mind, and that’s a testosterone thing too. Maybe the urge will diminish someday or go away entirely, but I don’t think so. There’s no shortage of people around still who desperately need a punch in the head, and they still cross my path.

An old priest once told that “As I get older, I care more and more about less and less.” I took that to mean he didn’t sweat the small stuff anymore. He accepted things he could not change and he tried harder to change the things that mattered most - and upon which he could have some effect. I’m pondering his words more lately and it’s helping me make decisions about what to do with whatever time remains for me on this earth.


Ruthie said...

Welcome to old age, Tom. Happy Birthday!!

Anonymous said...

As one who will be 79 in a few months let me say that 60 in kid stuff. You wait, the old really sets in after 75. Enjoy now because later you get up and go will have got up and went!

Any way Happy B'day!

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Tom. Next step is Medicare, not a bad thing.
Some things just get better too.

Jeff B.

Anonymous said...

You sound disgustingly normal Tom.
You arent as good as you once were but as good once as you always were. (Most of the time.)

Welcome to joys of being 'old' and all the stuff you can screw up and still have a good excuse.

And before I forget....

Happy Birthday

Jim said...

Happy Birthday Tom!

Texas Gal said...

Looking from the vantage point of my 85th year, I say "Happy Birthday Tom", and wish you many more years of clear thinking and concise writing.

Kevin McK said...

Hi Tom, thought you were older than me, but I have you beat by 3 months. Man I've missed alot of your birthdays. You'll never move to Florida, and I'm not moving to Maine, so I guess I'll miss even more. But I do hope you have a Happy Birthday.
Your older friend, Kevin

Kevin McK said...

PS Your grandaughter Lily is beautiful.

Ava said...

Happy birthday, Tom. A wonderful column! And I agree, your granddaughter is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

To my favorite Brother: Happy Birthday ! No, wait, Your Tom, never mind. Happy Birthday anyway.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday there young fella!

I cling to Psalm 103:5 -
"Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's."


Winston Smith said...

Hey Tom---Fire up your truck and get over to Bretton Woods, NH NOW!!!

George Soros is there and they are holding Bretton Woods II.

Seems they are trying to figure out a new currency standard?


Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Tom..I just had a zero birthday also!! I think it makes me middle middle age by your definition. Bummed me out but time marches on and nothing I can do about it but age gracefully.

Scripture says.."Life is but a vapor.." ain't that the truth! :)

Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks Dawn. That is the truth. Vaporous.

My wife drove over there Friday with some house guests - just for the ride through the notch and to have lunch at the hotel. They wouldn't let anyone drive into their access road. She had to turn around and have lunch in North Conway.

Exclusive leftists.

Winston Smith said...

Tom---I don't see guys like Soros as representing the ideas of the left or the right. They use that paradigm to control. They are ultra greedy globalist elites----scary. Even scarier is what they are up to this time? The first Bretton Woods saw the inception of the IMF.

It figures they closed the road. Notice the lack of main stream media coverage on this?

Anonymous said...

Happy Belated Birthday Tom, sorry I missed it!


Anonymous said...

Oh wait, I did say it, back on April 10th...


never mind...

Tom as in tomax7.