So I’m sitting in my favorite chair, with my little dog stretched out atop my lower legs, and I’m looking out the window at a silvery-gray sky. It’s perfectly quiet.
“I don’t know what to think or how I’m supposed to feel,” I say.
“It’s just like any other day,” Lori responds.
A milestone day I never imagined has arrived. On this 27th day of December, life’s odometer has reached LXV. The Big Sesenta y Cinco. Sixty-Five.
An age that officially makes me a senior citizen, though some businesses and organizations consider you to be so at 62 or 60 or even 55. Whatever.
In any case, I’m now 65, eligible for Medicare and Social Security.
I don’t feel it. I’m still swimming, running, lifting weights. Working three part-time jobs: teaching at two universities and working for a local nonprofit. Reading, writing and blogging.
Two thoughts come to mind:
— The two people who gave me life are both gone now. My dad, Catarino, died in March of this year, six days after reaching his 91st birthday. My mom, Theresa, died four years ago in October, one day short of her 86th birthday.
I am eternally grateful to them for instilling so many enduring values — of hard work, honesty, loyalty — that I’ve tried to live by, as well as pass on to our three children.
I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without their love, support and encouragement. Neither had the opportunity to attend high school (though my dad went back and got his G.E.D. much later in life). Both worked a variety of blue-collar jobs and took pride in my earning a college degree, knowing I could then make a living with my head instead of my hands.
— I have much, so much, to be grateful for.
Three adult children — Nathan, Simone and Jordan — each with a personality as different from the others as one can imagine. Two daughters-in-law — Kyndall and Jamie — and one more — Sara — who will become the third next May. One granddaughter. Emalyn. Everyone in the family healthy, happy and gainfully employed, or else in school or at home by choice.
Two furry roommates that provide entertainment and companionship: 12-year-old Mabel, our brown tabby cat, and 4-year-old Charlotte, our border terrier mix.
One wonderful wife. Lori has been with me since college and at least a half-dozen moves, most of those coming in the early years of our marriage. She adapted every time as we moved from San Jose to Portland to Bend to Salem to Ann Arbor, back to Salem and up to Portland again, finally settling in a place that brought financial stability and a great city in which to raise our family and build our careers.
I know I drive her nuts after 42 years of marriage, with my forgetfulness and I’ll-get-to-it-in-just-a-minute approach toward too many things. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t recognize what an amazing and tolerant and generous woman she is. I love her deeply.
And not to be overlooked: My stepmother, Ora, now living without my dad in the home they made together in his native New Mexico. We grew very close over the course of her 46 years of marriage to my dad, and I am grateful for her love and support as well.
So, is turning 65 just like any other day?
We shall see.
Today I’m wearing my dad’s San Francisco 49ers jacket, the one I inherited upon his death. Wearing it with pride.