Monday, 25 March 2013
Turning 75 on the Ides of March
By Carl Hansen
A number of famous Americans were born in 1938. Some had their moment of fame as film stars: Natalie Wood, Connie Stevens, Brian Dennehy. Others for their achievements in music: Connie Francis, Kenny Rogers.
Still others as writers, TV personalities, tycoons, and athletes: Judy Bloom, Peter Jennings, Ted Turner, Oscar Robertson. And still others for odd achievements such as daredevil Evel Kneivel or for dubious claims to fame such as Bernard Madoff.
I share their birth year, although my accomplishments are far from famous, and with them I share the milestone of reaching the age of 75, which will occur for me in a few days from now on March 15: the Ides of March.
Through the gift of the internet, I found a number of reflections of indivuals written the year they turned 50. Several of them spoke of their Jubilee Year as an opportunity for new beginnings, a time for discovering things one needs to clear away as well as time for setting new goals for the future.
When I turned 50, at the midpoint of what would become an 18 year presidency of a small college in Nebraska, I was so immersed in day-to-day campus issues and fund-raising tasks, I don’t remember taking time for any such philosophical musings.
But now, days away from when I will as turn 75, the situation is different. Gone are the non-stop days where my life was governed by a calendar and to-do lists. In its place is a schedule governed more by what I want to do than what I have to do.
This is now a time for reflection which is what I have been doing for several months as I have been writing my “life story” hoping it will be something my children and grandchildren will read and treasure at some point in the future.
Thoughts of mortality are more frequent as I approach this milestone than when I turned 50. Recent surgery to remove two basal cell carcinomas, the aches and pains in my body each morning when I get out of bed and the realization that my father died in his mid-70s all play a part in that.
These thoughts come not with a sense of morbidity or fear but simply the reality that memento mori and seize the day are more a part of my daily awareness than a few years ago.
And with the realization that my future horizon has limits, there are also thoughts of gratitude for many things. I look back on life work I found fulfilling as a pastor, teacher and administrator. I give thanks for my faithful wife who has walked beside me for more than 50 years, for my children and grandchildren who bring me so much pride and joy, for a comfortable retirement income that allows for travel, restaurant outings, regular golf and an occasional single malt scotch.
On the internet, I found far more reflections about turning 50 than about turning 75. No doubt that reflects the reality that fewer of us reach this latter age than the former but if those of you who read this are also turning 75 or 80 or 90, I would love to hear your thoughts on what this stage of life means for you.
[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]