On becoming old

It’s never a comfortable thought, but at some point, you have to admit you’re getting up there. I had that moment the other day. I’m still hale and hearty at 63. I work full-time. I run in the mornings. I do yard work on the weekends. I still feel good.

But, I’m 63, which I realized the other day when I pulled my back lifting up some branches I’d just cut off the tree. My wife came out to help me inside, and she said to me—my wife of 32 years—“you’ve got to be more careful, Nick, you’re not a young man anymore.”

Not a young man. When did that happen? Somehow, in the back of my head, I still had the idea that I was on some level still a young man. The trick, I realize now, was just moving the goal posts every decade or so by redefining young by comparing it to someone older.

I was young at twenty, no problem. At thirty, I was young compared to the middle-aged guys at my firm. At forty-five, I was young compared to the guys stepping out the door. At fifty, to the ones who lived on golf courses in retirement. And at sixty-three…well, there are guys older, of course, but I don’t know that I’d count as young in comparison to any of them.

So, here I am, not young. And it has me thinking about all kinds of uncomfortable thoughts. I’m a realistic, down-to-earth person, and I’ve long accepted my mortality. I’m not trying to hide my age or hide the number of years I likely have left. At the same time, I’ve never really sat down and done the calculations or done anything about those facts.

Or I hadn’t, until now. Having a few days off from work to rest the back, I decided to start looking into a few of those old guy issues that you have to get around to eventually.

I’m now the proud owner of a living will, for instance. I’ve set down all the requirements for how I want things to go when it comes down to it if I’m not able to make the call at the time.

I’m also working with a lawyer on what we might call my dead will. That’s more complicated than I expected it to be. I have my wife and the kids, and two grandkids now as well, and a brother who’s older and a sister who’s younger. Exactly how to divvy all that up fairly has been hard, but in a way, kind of fun.

When my wife found out how I was spending my recovery time, she had a little cry about it, which was sweet of her, but she was appreciative as well. It’s the sort of thing I think she’d probably wanted to get on me about but never felt comfortable forcing the issue. Well, it’s always nice when an old man can make his old lady happy.

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