This Wednesday at 4:10 a.m., I will turn 70 years old. I don’t feel 70—except for my knees and my back—but every old person says that. Our spirits are ageless. Inside, we’re still 6 and 13 and 28 and 49 . . . .
But the number scares me. When I was a kid, 70 was old/the end of life. There was nothing beyond it. Now, maybe because there are so many of us 70-something baby boomers, maybe because a lot of the diseases that used to kill people early don’t anymore, 70 is barely a tiptoe into seniorhood. We could last another 30 or 40 years. My grandfather made it to 98, my dad to 97, his cousin to 96. On the other side of the family, the numbers aren’t as good, but we won’t dwell on that. Nobody knows when they’re going to die. I don’t know how people who don’t believe in God live with the uncertainty.
My 70-something friends are welcoming me into the cool kids’ club. Most are still very active, despite a few aches and pains. The other day when I walked into my friend’s house with a cane due to my gimpy knee, she brought out six different sprays and creams designed to relieve pain. I took two home; they kind of worked. She also talked about slipping off her diet to eat “pot cookies.” We both talk about buying campers and hitting the road. We grownup hippies are too young to be old.
But I read the obits. People my age die. People my age need hip replacements. People my age get cancer. Or not. I worry more about how most young people perceive 70, the same way I did: old/at the end/finished. I don’t want those perceptions to get in my way.
I’m just getting started. I have done a lot in my 70 years. If God calls, “Time!” I have done enough, but there are so many more books to read and write, songs to sing, people to meet, and places to go. I want to see how today’s children turn out. I want to see how “This is Us” and “Grey’s Anatomy” end. I want to know if my hair will ever turn completely white. The turn of the odometer just reminds me not to waste a minute.
So, here comes 70. I’m planning to go to Mass, hike in the woods a bit, have lunch with friends in Waldport, and, if the weather cooperates, read or play a little music in the sun. Just like I would have done when I was 69. If any locals would like to join us for lunch, let me know so we can save you a seat.
Here are some fun quotes about turning 70: https://seniors.lovetoknow.com/senior-life/turning-70-quotes-celebrate-joy-laughter
WebMD offers a list of the scary changes one can expect between 70 and 80. You don’t have to click on that. Instead, I offer Janet Harrigan Davis’ Pinterest board full of fun and inspiration about being 70.
Check out all these famous people who are in their 70s. Tom Selleck is older than me??? Meryl Streep! Dolly Parton! Go, us!
Whether you are younger, older, or the same age as me, what do you think about age 70? Is it “one foot in the grave,” no big deal, or something to cheer about? Let’s talk about it.