Reaching the golden years
My late father-in-law used to quip that you had to be a decade older than your chronological age to reach the “golden years.” I always thought that was a good statement until this week when I took a look at the calendar and calculated that on Friday I will be 75 years old! While I was aware of it, I have to admit it was a bit of a shock – I always used the statement that I was upper, upper middle-aged. Now, I have to admit that I’m now an official “old-codger.”
Let me hasten to say that I really don’t think I’m 75 – I see myself as 55. That’s alright, but increasing aches and pains and other minor physical maladies sneak in to turn me back to 75. There is one thing I want to point out and that is I will never become an old curmudgeon. I refuse to ever become an old guy who complains about everything. I will not dwell in the “good old days” and think everything was better “way back in the 1950s,” I have always been a positive person and age will not change that. I will always look forward to a better tomorrow and I will always remain active.
Someone asked if I had a favorite birthday and my answer is “no, I think they were all fun”. I remember one very clearly and that was my 13th birthday. I was a seventh grader and we were playing basketball at Osawatomie. I thought it would be a good idea to score 13 points in honor of becoming a teen-ager. I am sure that I took more than my share of shots, I usually did. I got off to a good start and scored nine points in the first three quarters and then I got an unwanted birthday gift – a broken nose that ended the game for me. That wasn’t quite what I had in mind for a birthday present.
I really don’t have any other memories of childhood birthdays. When we were in the newspaper business, if a birthday fell on Monday, I celebrated it by covering a city council meeting or a school board meeting. If it came on Tuesday, I would be at the Olathe “Daily News” getting the papers printed. Birthdays and, for that matter, anniversaries had to fit into the regimen of the newspaper business. Yes, we usually celebrated on weekends. I celebrated one birthday in Australia, but I don’t remember anything about it. When Jean and I were on a trip to England we went to the theatre. Earlier, I attended the state basketball tournament the year the Braves won the championship.
I really don’t mind getting old – I have always said it is better than second choice. I am fortunate to have outlived my father, who died of a stroke at 52 and his father who was in his late 50s. I would like to be like my maternal grandfather, H. MacDonald Thompson, who died in his sleep at 93. He was an American Baptist minister who preached a sermon on the day he died and drove himself to the church. They discovered he had died, when they went in to tell him that his wife of 63 years had succumbed to cancer at the hospital. I’ve always thought it was wonderful that they went at the same time, not knowing that the other had died and did not have to grieve for each other. If I had a longevity goal it would be to live to age 93 and see all of my grandchildren grown up.
If I was asked to describe my life in one word, it would be “lucky.” I have lived through some challenges, but things always worked out. I am lucky that I went to the right college, that I entered the right profession, that I went on a blind date in 1958 and met the perfect person and that we have enjoyed 53 years of married bliss. I was born in an era when 185 pound linemen could play small college football. I was very lucky to have some wonderful mentors during my formative years. I was fortunate to purchase the Chieftain-Sentinel Publications. I never minded going to work and I loved the weekly newspaper business. My “good luck” list is very long.
I am glad that I’m an optimist and I will never lose my positive outlook on life. No matter what happens I will accept it and work to make the situation better. I will continue to do everything I can to leave the world a better place than I found it. I plan to remain a lifelong learner and enjoy every second of my life.
Someone asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said I have it all. I have three wonderful daughters, three tremendous sons-in-law. Beyond that I have been blessed with seven outstanding grandchildren, Andrew and Zach Holder; Katie and Kelsey Pence; Stan, Sam and Shane Skwarlo. I really don’t think that I could ask for more.
Well, yes there is one thing I would like and that would be another 25 years or so and maybe some great grandchildren.