My lack of concern does not stem from dementia, but from perspective.
Everyone seems to either openly celebrate or be terrified of these birthdays that mark the end of one decade and the beginning of another. There is nothing sinister or magical about them, but they are still often invested with some mystical power.
There feels like more than a year between the ages of 49 and 50. Many people see it to be a monumental difference. In fact it is just a mental difference.
"Young" means more than being supple, handsome and ignorant. "Old" is more than being slow, wrinkled and wise.
Let’s imagine that being young means looking forward to the future. Being old means living in the past.
Regarding the upcoming birthday, it means very little. I was much older 20 years ago than I am today. Twenty years ago, I was burdened with the responsibility of family, and the Gross National Product. I did not have time to think about the future.
Ten years ago, I was older still, as I had an imagined geriatric condition. I believed I had no future. Once it was decided that my health was better than expected, my age dropped substantially.
Today, I am not exactly spry, but I understand people who say that age is only a number. This means that a number has meaning only if we let it.
Reaching 65 years of age is only important because Social Security and Medicare have made it so. Then, again, even that is changing.
And 50 is not old, it is just the age requirement for AARP.
My mother turned 40 and the whole day was a mess. If she had not had a calendar, she would never have known, nor reacted like her birth certificate had just expired.
When she reached twice that age, she celebrated like it was a victory. Devastated to be 40, she was thrilled to be 80.
Some people cannot imagine what it would be like to be over 100. My mother-in-law is 101 and still can’t imagine it.
I was once over 100; it happened about my 18th birthday. I was very old in those days. I lived in the past.
I take my cue from people like Rowena Donaldson and Joan Rhoades, who both just had significant parties. And then there is Harold Reich, who always remains 10 years younger than I am.
The future is an adventure met with anticipation, rather than just wondering what is for dinner. Life is full of surprising new knowledge and delightful challenges. I creep along not because of arthritis, but because I delight in studying the details. This is an amazing world.
At the age of 10, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now, I’m not so sure, but I’m open to possibilities. In fact, I am not even sure I want to grow up.
I just want to just get ripe, not moldy.
• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4201 or emailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.