Birthdays come to us once a year, which is more than enough for anybody. Most of our birthdays have no special meaning other than marking the date on which we were born. These birthdays come and go with a couple of birthday cards, a cake, and maybe a gathering of family or a party. No big deal, just another birthday. There are a few special birthdays, however, that take on greater meaning than the run-of-the-mill type. These are the milestones, the benchmarks of our lives.
When a Jewish boy turns thirteen years old he becomes a man. In the U.S. as soon as an individual turns 18 he or she legally becomes an adult and is automatically emancipated from parental custody and control. In most states 21 is the age when you may legally buy and possess alcoholic beverages. With Obamacare nearly all young people can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26, even if they’re married, financially independent, and no longer live with their parents.
After your 30th birthday you’re supposed to be a more serious adult person, no longer the “young kid” in the office. Turning 50 years old signifies the beginning of the end of so-called middle age. At 55 you are invited to join AARP, you can qualify for some “senior citizen” discounts, and maybe take early retirement. But the one birthday benchmark that’s the real killer; the one that really takes the birthday cake in a major way, is the big SIX-FIVE.
Yep. When you turn 65 you can no longer pretend that you’re still just in the later stages of middle age. No, you’re old. You are officially an old person, a card-carrying senior citizen and everybody knows it. You qualify for Medicare. You’re headin’ for the last round-up. You’re gettin’ close to the finish line. It’s all downhill from now on. Whatever you lose from this point on, you probably will never have the time to get back. You are OLD now. Happy birthday!
By now you’ve probably guessed that I have just turned that ripe age myself. I can’t remember (and that’s another result of getting old) if I had a hard time with any other age. Maybe with 50, but nothing before that, I don’t think. 30 didn’t bother me, nor did 40. Turning 60 was a milestone, but nothing like 65. This one sticks in my craw and I don’t even know what a craw is. I’d look it up to find out, but I’m too old to care.
Listen, I’m not complaining. I’m relatively healthy, I think (I’ll be finding out for sure after my yearly physical next week). I have a good wife, a good family, a nice home, and I don’t owe anyone any money. I sleep pretty well at night. I still drink when I want to. I have the most adorable little grandnephew in the entire world. My eyes are fine, my hearing is fine, which means I can enjoy the leisure activities I love most, reading, watching classic movies, and listening to music.
I celebrated with cake, ice cream, and presents quietly with my family. No big surprise party, no noisy crowded restaurant, no crazy performers, just a perfect family get-together. I’ve had the other stuff; I don’t need blowout bashes anymore. My sister made me a cake and hosted the party at her house, which she always does. I received great presents from everyone, but my sister got me a one-of-a-kind present that I never expected in a million years and was a thrill. The next day she took me to lunch. She went all out, but that’s my precious sister, Debra. Like the gift she got me, she’s one of a kind.
My brother has invited us over for dinner at his place next week. That should be fun. My wonderful wife is taking me out to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner later this week, which will be nice. We’ll get dressed (yes, we still dress for dinner when going out to a fine restaurant), sit at our favorite booth, and be taken care of by our favorite waiter. We’ll order drinks and toast each other. Happy birthday, Greg! You’re 65 years old!
65 years old. That’s a ridiculous age for a young man.