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My View: I don’t feel that old, but the clock is ticking

By Larry Beahan

Last fall, I ordered a fully electric Nissan Leaf to replace my Subaru. I would have preferred a Chevy Bolt or a Tesla Model E because, at a similar price, they both have a range of about 230 miles while the Leaf’s is 107. The difficulty is that these longer-range cars aren’t available here until spring. I wanted to actually drive an electric car before my kids come around with, “Sorry, Pop, it’s time to give up the keys.”

There is an age when you don’t feel so old, but there are signs all around you. I go to the Y and a lady who doesn’t look that young to me holds the door for me, and when I thank her replies, “You’re welcome, sir.”

“Sir?” I was going to hold the door for her. Wait till I whiz past her on the walking track. She won’t “sir” me then.

My retirement account manager at Fidelity sent me an alarm, “The level of stock [equity] in your retirement accounts is generally not associated with someone your age, which may mean an inappropriate level of risk.” Translated into English, she is saying: “At your age most people don’t buy green bananas.”

I don’t feel that old. I still race a sailboat every Wednesday night in the summer, along with my son and our loyal crew. I steer now and avoid jumping around the foredeck. At the sailing club these days, they recognize me for being the longest continuous competitor rather than for actually winning anything.

And my doctor kindly offers “quality of life” as a consideration when we discuss whether I should bother with cholesterol meds or need to avoid the comfort of risky nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. I guess it’s nice to hear, “You don’t need another colonoscopy or PSA test since you’re going to die of something else first.”

I was in the hospital once and my roommate asked me, “I get this ‘living will’ thing but what do they mean by DNR?”

“It means you are in such bad shape that if you have a cardiac arrest, they shouldn’t bother reviving you,” I said.

“Oh my God! Thanks! You just saved my life,” was his grateful response.

Those personable young people who staff the “development” departments at my alma mater and at various environmental organizations to which I belong are so helpful and so willing to chat at banquets and gatherings. I do enjoy them but I wish they were not quite so free with information about “planned giving.” I have quite enough “planned spending” in mind.

At my wife’s and my age, actuaries still give us, on average, another five to six years.

When my parents were in their 80s, Mom was helping run the office at the senior center and Dad was supplementing their income shooting eight-ball pool. When they told of friends dropping off left and right, it sounded  like a WWII bomber squadron counting losses after every mission.

Right now I can count three friends who have atrial fibrillation and are on blood thinners. One just got out of the hospital with  vertigo worthy of a drunken sailor  and a terrible leg infection. Another signed himself into a nursing home. The one with the infection emailed me, “Fortunately, I’m a lot tougher in my 80s. I never could have stood all this at 27.”

Whatever happens, I hope to live through another presidential election, so that I can break the news to Saint Peter, “Donald Trump is no longer president of the United States.” I have several friends who intend to live that long for exactly the opposite purpose.

Larry Beahan, who lives in Amherst, still has quite a bit of “planned spending” in mind.
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