On a TV drama recently, the character of a hard-charging professional woman who appeared to be about 30, was asked if she intended to have children. With a dismissive wave of her hand she answered, “Someday.”
As I immediately remarked to Ollie the cat, “That's easy for her to say but my somedays are over.”
Then I wondered when I had stopped using – even thinking - the word “someday” in relation to myself.
The word refers, of course, to a point in the indefinite future – how far forward is debatable, I suppose, and possibly individual.
In my usage, that time period would stretch from at least two years from now unto the grave – I've used it mostly to mean a long while from today at a time I cannot determine right now. But planning for anything a “long while from now” hasn't seemed useful for – well, a long while.
In a few days I will be 72 years old and even though the bean counters tell me my current life expectancy is another 16 years or so, that certainly is not gospel or a promise. Plenty of people die when they are younger than I am at the moment.
“I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.”
Like Benjamin Franklin, a lot of old people read the obits. I've never liked them because too often I learn interesting things I wish I had known when the dead person was alive. But once or twice a month, I run my eyes down the The New York Times index of recent deaths.
Because only well-known people get the full obituary treatment at The Times, I recognize a lot of names but mostly I check out their ages. It's gratifying, these days, to see how many live into their 80s and 90s but it is the people who died younger than I am that I'm looking for.
Just last week Paul Williams, who founded one of the earliest and best (in my estimation) rock and roll magazines, Crawdaddy, died at age 64. British actor Richard Griffiths was 65, as was porn star Harry Reems.
Those ages don't seem fair to me, not fair at all. But they are a reminder that none of us knows our departure date. Mine could be sooner than the actuaries predict so “someday” hasn't been a choice in my life for quite awhile.
What's curious is that I don't recall making a conscious decision to stop deferring intentions into that indefinite future but given my automatic reaction to that young character's “someday,” apparently I did so.
Have you stopped thinking in “somedays” and are there other words you think stop being applicable to elders?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Oh, Such is Life