Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Three-Quarters of a Century

Turning 75 wasn’t a particular bother for me; I knew it was coming, after all. My birthday came and went, my age was noted by me and others, and I moved on. And then, for some inexplicable reason, it hit me: 75 years is three-quarters of a century! Holy crap. I mean it’s the same number of years. But for some reason outside the realm of common sense and rationality, I saw my age in an entirely different light.

And then, just to torture myself further, I looked up life expectancy. Big mistake: for my age, it was 76.91years, giving me about a year to go. That’s for white males in the United States in Illinois, number 26 from the top (surprisingly, the District of Columbia with 82.07). I could still be in Texas, 75.63, or Oklahoma where I would already be dead: 73.74*.

Okay, these are just numbers. And there are many websites, many with different numbers. I can’t even vouch for the accuracy of this site’s figures.  One site had me shuffling off at 63. Still, it’s an interesting number if not of any particular use.

The statistic is further disconcerting when I consider how many of my friends have died. Just recently Joe, back in Texas, a pilot in Vietnam, wounded twice. And then there Bil (yes, one L), here in Chicago, who battled bone cancer for the eight or so years I knew him, but who finally succumbed. And then there was my beloved Donna, dying of ALS: “Dying by inches,”** as someone put it. I met Donna on January 2, 1968. But I need another whole blog to write about her. And then my parents and grandparents . . .

So, what does all this mean? I’m not depressed by these thoughts; instead, there is a mild curiosity, not helped by the fact that we can’t, usually, know when the lights will go out. And I’m not philosopher enough to dredge up any meaning from it all. I just thought it was interesting and something to mull over--as I have a probably unhealthy cup of coffee and shortly to have a probably unhealthy two cocktails, as is my evening wont, and eat a probably unhealthy dinner of too much fat and calories.

May as well enjoy that final descent into oblivion.

And I do hope readers aren’t depressed by this meditation on death. I’m not.

**I was unable to find the original speaker of this quote; it has been used by many people, including Charles Darwin, but I have no idea who said it first.