When we are young, we want to be older. Kids can’t wait until they are in their teens. Then they want to be 21 and have privileges attributed to adults such as being allowed to drink. It is also an age when they no longer require consent of their parents. They want to be on their own – be independent. Then they realize that with independence and freedom comes responsibilities. They no longer can depend on the financial support of their parents once they sever the ties of home. Marriage was once a normal stage in their development until society changed its values and young couples began living together without marriage. Sexual promiscuity became more common with changing attitudes about morality. Some went to college and studied for a career while others found whatever jobs were available after high school always seeking a better job with more income. Once one reached the age of 30, it was common to have established oneself, either in marriage or in a career-oriented profession. In the meanwhile, birthdays continued. Signs of aging began to appear. The agility one had began to lessen along with sexual prowess. Trying to stop the aging process became a challenge. Using makeup to hide the wrinkles that were beginning to form was attributed to growing older. In the meanwhile, birthdays continued. Health studios were in vogue while aches and pains began to appear with or without the strain attributed to over exertion. This normally occurred around the age of 40. Health issues became a concern as old maladies and new ones grabbed attention of those aged 50 or more. Life expectancy concerns increased at age 60 and above. Insurance premiums also increased. Life insurance companies-based premiums on statistical data related to life expectancy. Retirement age was 65 and it was estimated that most people would live another five years beyond retirement. Retirement meant that the normal physical and mental activity associated with work tended to diminish or atrophy thus affecting one’s capacity to function. Accidents were an exception and separate insurance policies were written for accidental deaths while health insurance premiums increased, often beyond the means of people on a fixed income to afford. Financial stress caused some to lose their homes. In some cases, people even took their own lives to relieve their burdens.
Those of us who reached the age of 70 reflected on our status wondering how much longer we had to live. Some would use the age of parents as a guide forgetting that advances in medicine was extending life. In my case, no one on the March side of the family lived beyond the age of 80 while on the Firestone side, just one uncle reached the age of 90. I considered this an exception and targeted the age of 80 as my end goal. I admit that there were times when I wished that I had died on the operating table with my two open heart surgeries or that I had died in Beirut. On reflection, I began to think of the things yet undone or things that I could still accomplish. Reading became a passion. Historical novels and memoirs, such as written by Dick Stodghill and Hermann Frech allowed me insights into the mind of the author. Actual experiences and the true nature of war rather than fictional novels or movies depicting war as heroic influenced my thoughts about war and that continues to this day. Although I am an Air Force Veteran, my war experience was not from being engaged in any battle, but as a civilian in a war zone. I am opposed to war. In my remaining days or years, I will fight against war and war mongers. There is nothing heroic about war. Young men don’t enter war to die for their country. If they are drafted to fight, their objective is one of survival. Heroic actions are often by those who became reckless and took chances without thought for their lives. Earning medals posthumously is for the benefit of the family in recognition of heroic service. Audie Muphy is an example as written by Ann Joiner in her novel about Audie Murphy who she described as having a death wish making him the most decorated soldier of WWII.
I will soon make it to 80. I will not set another target, but rather value each day as a gift. My wish is to be of assistance to others in whatever manner I can for as long as I can. I do not seek monetary rewards. I am already rich with the love of family and friends. I intend to write whatever stimulates me if only to share my feelings as I am doing today. I feel blessed to have lived a life of adventure, learning by exposure and further educating myself on matters useful in my entrepreneurial pursuits. I made no money in the books I wrote, however it added to my experience and in developing friendships that have more value than monetary rewards.
I’m soon 80 and still learning. My mental capacities for learning are not as sharp as they once were, however my critical thinking has increased. I am opinionated and set in my ways. As long as I can comprehend and still breathe, I will continue to voice my opinion and speak out against injustice. My sensitivity to criticism is not a deterrent in saying what I feel. I am who I am.