Jim Porter: On turning 70 … and 37 years of this column! (opinion)
A significant milestone will occur next week on Cinco de Mayo. I attain a certain status, and while it is better than the other option, it is quite sobering and has put me in a state of serious reflection.
I am turning 70. The “big 7-0.” A bona fide first-wave Boomer. Where did the time go?
Friends tell me that today’s 70 is yesterday’s 60. There is some truth in that. I’ve never really felt my age. I think most of us are like that. But my dad and his dad died at 65, so it is probably natural that I think about my mortality—something I only recently started doing.
My legal assistant dug up a Law Review I wrote 20 years ago on May 2, 1996. Here are some excerpts that anyone turning 50 might relate to:
Turning 50 in 1996 — Verbatim
“The Big 5-0 is not quite as lighthearted and celebratory as, let’s say, turning 30 or 40. That was fun. There is not as much humor in turning 50—and the birthday presents, which on past occasions were plentiful and anxiously awaited, are mostly time-honored Hallmark condolences.
“I have never felt my age, nor acted my age according to some, and on the eve of the Big One I feel more fortyish than fifty. Whenever I read a news story about someone “age 50” doing so and so, I picture a person much older than myself. That’s probably good.
“Starting a family at an older age, 45 to be exact, something Baby Boomers are prone to do, probably keeps us young, although at times I think it makes me age faster.
“A few months ago after lamenting over being up most of the evening with my little angels, and if I recall correctly that was the third night in a row, someone commented with all sincerity “at least you’ll have your girls to take care of you in your old age.” A comforting thought.
“But unrealistic. When my girls are in high school, I’ll be 62—certainly the oldest parent in the PTO. And I can’t wait.
“There are so many things I want to do with our girls: camping, fishing, rafting (hopefully they will be whitewater guides during college summers), traveling, and skiing. All of that is starting, but for now it is coloring, videos, swings, ballet, tying shoes, and learning letters. At least diapers are in the past. Like all parents, I worry about the future and want the best for the kids. Fortunately, my daughter’s first words were: “Forget Stanford Daddy, trade school for me.”
“Working at the office is a pleasure, but there is nothing like the smiles and hugs that await me every evening. Not exactly every evening, but whenever they are in the mood for hugs and kisses.
“But whenever your next milestone arrives, take time to reflect on how lucky you are.”
Returning to Reality
Fifty was a long time ago. I can barely remember. Our two girls are out of college, pretty much on their own. Shanley has her first “real job” in San Francisco, and Kelsey is living my dream as a summer river rafting guide. They have enriched my life as has Marianne who puts up with me — even as she recently earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
It’s Been Good
Life at Porter Simon could not be better — going on 43 years. We’re one big family. I love coming to work, especially with a four-day work week. Retirement is on the horizon.
I know the future will bring more gardening and traveling, more family time, as well as trips to the emergency room, a second knee replacement and the preverbal colonoscopy jokes. Bring it on.
I’ve enjoyed writing this column for 37 years — half of my life. Thanks for allowing me to spend time with you and thanks for letting me indulge with today’s column.
In closing, let’s heed the advice posted on my office wall: “It’s time we took control of how we are living by doing more of everything we like.”
So have some control over your life and make it a good one.