Tuesday, January 05, 2016

It's the Big 8-0

As the last in a line of holiday boys in my family, the season just ended (except for gift returns, of course) had some special meaning for me.

My grandfather was born on Christmas Day. My father was born on Christmas Day. I was a bit late, but made my appearance on New Years Day--January 1, 1936. Reaching my 80th year inspired a special party hosted by son Lee (he broke the male holiday chain with a February birthday), Lee's fiancĂ©e Karen, beautiful wife Sandy, and Karen's mother, Ilse.

The party was lots of fun. Participants kept things on the positive side; a card from Ilse informed me
Something to celebrate--80
that 80 really is only 40 x 2. Nobody asked me if I had any regrets.

No matter how you frame it, however, 80 is closer to the end than the start of our individual journeys. I have spent a little time reflecting on that, and must confess to a touch of sadness. Life has been good; I'm still healthy, although not quite as wealthy and wise as I would like. Hanging around for a while longer would be nice.

My spirits got a boost when up popped a link to a November article in the New England Journal of Medicine reporting on a major study of life expectancies around the world. I learned that two-thirds of men in developed countries die before they are 80. I thus have outlasted millions of my contemporaries. The researchers also found that an American male reaching 80 has good odds of living to 87.

The nice thing about age statistics is that getting into the lead invites you to continue on. If I make the 87 marker, odds are I'll get into the 90s. Assuming reasonable health, becoming an octogenarian could be the start of a fairly long and pleasant addition to my journey.

I immediately experienced one of the minor joys of advanced age. There no longer is any need for those miserable New Years resolutions. They are supposed to have the laudable purpose of self-improvement, but after 79 years of striving, and usually falling short, in that department what you see is what you're going to get. I intend to take things as they come, and have some fun along the rest of the way, however long or short that part of the adventure may be.

9 comments:

Meryl Baer said...

Happy belated birthday. Here's to many more!

Jhawk23 said...

Yes indeed, happy birthday and many more to come. And keep on blogging.

It sounds as if in your family line, you're used to holiday birthdays. In mine, it's been not so precise, more like "close calls" as my father's was December 20, mine is the same as MLK's (January 15), which of course isn't usually celebrated on that particular date.

Sometimes it's hard to celebrate in these circumstances. A friend of mine shares your January 1 date, and he's basically just given up trying to celebrate - too much conflict with New Year's Eve, I guess. You're either competing with huge crowds, or facing the post-holiday period when a lot of things close down. But your home-grown occasion sounds like the perfect solution.

One anecdote: Another friend of ours has a Christmas birthday. She is in some Starbucks club that offers a free coffee on your birthday, but guess what, all the Starbucks are closed on Christmas. When she asked if she could get a free coffee the next day, the answer was no, there's no company policy covering that! How weird.

Dick Klade said...

That Starbucks policy is weird. A locally owned tavern near us offers a free birthday dinner to all who join their special group. We went in on Jan. 3 and they cheerfully provided the freebie. Some years we've gone in as late as the 15th, and they said "that's close enough." Maybe "buying locally owned" is just a tad better than merely "buying local"?

Tom Sightings said...

At first glance I thought your headline read: The Big "O" -- which, at age 80, is doing pretty good! But seriously, I hope you stay healthy and get to hang around for quite a while more . . . and I'll be happy to join you. Happy b'day!

Alan G said...

Happy Birthday Dick... and here's wishing you many more!

Rummuser said...

Here is a belated birthday greeting and best wishes that you see many more than just seven more.

Anonymous said...

Well happy birthday to you a bit late. Yes, if you make it to 80 you are in good shape for a few more years. One of the things we learned in Demography 101 was that the odd thing about life tables...those statistical tools demographers develop and actuaries use to calculate insurance premiums, is that the older you get, the older you get. Another thing to remember is that the data used in these tables is old. So they don't reflect medical advances such as Jimmy Carters miraculous recovery from something that had a certain death rate a few years ago. What most of us can expect is a long life and we need to work on fitness because we don't want to spend all those golden years bedridden. Have a good day. Dianne

PiedType said...

A New Year's baby! That's pretty notable, but I can see how sharing with a big holiday could be a drag. I'd say if you've made it to 80 in good shape, you're going to be around for a while longer -- good news for all of us! Happy Belated Birthday!

Dick Klade said...

Thanks, all, for the very nice happy birthday wishes!