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From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 21

by Jay Beeler

At my age there’s not much that will rattle my cage. You’ve seen it all, heard it all and experienced most things that life has to offer. Except the little surprise birthday party that was held in my honor at the Fish Tale Restaurant a few weeks ago. That rattled my cage.

Friend Mari Hooper tricked me into going there to meet her friend from Boston, but Mari was acting especially strange that Sunday afternoon. There were other little things – like the extra effort going into food purchases, cleaning and “toddler-proofing” our home – in anticipation of a visit from our granddaughter, Lyla, and her parents.

As we entered the restaurant and headed for the room typically used for large gatherings there was a loud “surprise,” followed by the sight of numerous friends and relatives. Shock, disbelief, tears of joy – those were just a few of the emotions I initially felt. I blame it all and thank my wife, Anita, for pulling off something I thought would be impossible to do.

Now that I’ve officially entered those “golden years,” I can truthfully say I don’t feel that old, but there are telltale signs that say otherwise:

  • When you go into a restaurant they automatically give you the “senior discount” and there’s no need to ask.

  • You can eat anything you want, but prefer to consume very little of anything by sharing the entrée or taking restaurant food home in a “doggy bag.”

  • The bathroom cabinet looks more like the local pharmacy and doctor appointments are set far in advance.

  • Each haircut yields more gray trimmings tumbling to the floor.

  • If you do something stupid others will attribute it to your “old age.” Yes, there are times when I do something stupid, but now I think about it first and do it anyway because I know that I can get away with it.

  • When someone asks you to do something undesirable you can pretend not to hear them.

  • You never have to wear a tie. If you ever see me wearing a tie it will be because (1) one of my kids is getting married, (2) the president has invited us to the White House for dinner or, (3) my “shake and bake” funeral wishes are being ignored and my cold, lifeless body has been put on display at a funeral home. (Please, a little gathering of close friends and relatives at the Fish Tale is sufficient, followed by the spreading of a few ashes into the tropical fish tank.)

  • Somebody said that seniors 70 or older can be excused from jury duty. Good. The last time I was asked to serve on a jury for some guy who spilled a very hot drink onto his genitals at the Starbucks drive-up window and I had no interest in wasting my time to reward his clumsiness at the expense of Starbucks; nor did the other jurors, as it turned out. Did you know that Jerry Lee Lewis introduced the song “Great Balls of Fire” in 1957?

  • Seniors tend to wake up in the middle of the night. I don’t have that problem if I sip wine beforehand. Then it’s just a matter of sleep walking to the bathroom a few times.

  • Each season when I trim the 20-foot “gumdrop” pear tree in our front yard, I declare that it’s time to pass that honor off to someone else.

The morning before my surprise party, I remember thinking about how great it would be to have people ignore my birthday (no gifts please) and let me age gracefully. In retrospect, I truly appreciated the acknowledgment and thank the friends and family who made the event so memorable. Of special note was my brother, Tom, and his wife Nola coming from Seattle, Wash. and my sister, Margaret, and her husband, Ed, coming from Waynesboro, Penna. Also from Waynesboro my nephew, John, his wife, Lori, and their two children, Junior and Marley.

The highlight of that day – I thought – was going to be a few hours spent with my granddaughter. To me, grandchildren can really “light up your life” with their hugs, kisses and exploring their world. So the recent news that a second grandchild – a boy – is forthcoming in April was a very special birthday present – especially in these “golden years.”