I turned 70 a couple of months ago. It’s completely freaky to be referring to myself as being that age. I suppose that because I still have hair, most people I tell are amazed. They say I am well preserved for that age. I tell them I’m rotten inside!
I was a freshman in high school when the Simon and Garfunkel record ‘Bookends’ came out. It had the hits Mrs. Robinson, At the Zoo and Hazy Shade of Winter on it but it also had some different tracks that didn’t make much impression on my 14 year old self: Save the Life of My Child was a strange story about someone’s child jumping off of a building. Voices of Old People was recordings of old people talking about nothing in particular – I thought. Then there was the Bookends Theme, with the line ‘ . . . how terribly strange to be 70.’
That line has been rolling around in my head for the past few months. I don’t know what Paul Simon – then not even 30 – was referring to specifically, but it sure resonates in me now.
I get to have lunch with a group of stagehand friends every couple of months. Everyone in the group is retired except for me. The first question I am asked when I see them is, ‘Are you retired yet?’
So far, the answer has been no but that will change this year. While the Symphony Stage Manager job is tremendously rewarding in some ways, it is very stressful and I decided that last years’ Christmas Holiday programming – always the hardest month of the year – would be my last. My friend and colleague Jim J. finally retired last fall at the age of 75. Many of us thought he should have gone sooner. Not because he couldn’t do his job but because we all recognized that sometimes the body doesn’t work the way it used to. And sometimes that happens with little warning. I’m ready to enjoy life a little before it’s too late!
I think about my friend and former band mate Tim I., dead from prostate cancer at the age of 59. I’ve had my PSA checked every year since then. So far, it’s still very low.
I had three surgeries last year under general anesthesia and one more (skin cancer) under local. It’s time to not take anything for granted.