My longevity has never interested me.
Like you, at age 20, I would live forever. At 50, I marveled that I was still alive.
And at 65 it dawned on me that had I known I was to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself.
My Aunt Marion was right: Careless conduct in your 20’s and 30’s boomerangs years later in the form of shortness of breath, weak knees, painful arthritis at the site of bones broken long ago, excess stomach acid, and high pharmaceutical bills.
Irritable bowel syndrome waits just ahead.
Oh, if I’d only listened.
But there was about as much chance of me learning from grown-up advice as Charlie Brown suddenly slapping his forehead in a Eureka moment, realizing that Lucy was always going to pull the football at the last second.
PLAY THE LONGEVITY GAME
It wasn’t to be. I’m pretty much a day-at-a-timer, a fiddling grasshopper living in a world of hard-working ants.
Or I was. Then a reader put me on to a site called “The Longevity Game!”
Just answer 12 lifestyle questions – how you drive, if you smoke, drink or drug, how you allow exercise and stress into your life – and voilà! In type that might as well be etched in stone, is the age at which you’ll die. Oh, they call it “Your Longevity Age,” but there’s no getting around the croak factor.
My Longevity Age is 88.
Eighty-eight? My God, I’ve got 19 years to live!
My first thought? This is more information than I ever wanted. Life-changing information that could transform me into a dorky goober, a planner-aheader constantly mumbling, “Today is yesterday’s tomorrow.”
Would this mean no more skydives from 15,000 feet? No more climbing glaciers in search of that perfect photograph? If I’m to live my life to its potential, I can’t take chances anymore, now can I?
No more six-packs of French crullers from Dunkin’ Donuts, or late-night strawberry shortcake, or the occasional bacon double-cheeseburger from McDonald’s – all dietary missteps I’d failed to acknowledge when taking The Test.
Hmmm, once I eliminate what few vices I still enjoy, won’t those 19 years seem more like 119?
For the first time ever, I pondered The Meaning of Life, quality vs. quantity, and the possibility of God’s forgiveness for small, but irreversible transgressions.
What about my car? I wondered. I have a ’94 Chevy convertible. Since I can’t afford another, will it possibly last another 19 years? God knows what that is in car years!
And what about Carolyn? I persuaded her to take The Test.
She, too, will live to age 88. But she’s five years younger. Which means once I get my ticket punched, I’ll probably end up hanging from her left ear as a diamond made from my cremation ashes. She’ll end up remarrying, this time rich. Why should she have all the fun? Is that fair?
Of course, if it’s true that couples tend to look more and more alike as they age, you could very well see us still in the year 2024, two Yoda look-alikes, hand in hand in some fetid south Florida Bingo parlor. I’ll be the one with no hair – except, of course, from my ears and nose. Knowing my luck, it’ll grow just short of a comb-over.
Ain’t aging wonderful!
Not that I don’t look forward to growing antique with the old girl. As long as she continues to make me laugh, I’m in for the duration. Of course, the question has always been: Is she?
Actually, I’ve decided not to give The Test too much credence. It’s probably sheer humbuggery. And over the years I’ve grown quite content with my vices. Besides, living life to its potential doesn’t necessarily mean longevity. Have you ever know a person to live to 114 to be remarkable for anything else?
So don’t look for me to be giving up my fiddle any time soon, no matter the reward in longevity.
The good thing about living a day at a time is that none of the rest matters. Another day, another year, another decade, whatever, it’s just fine with me.
In celebration of my newfound wisdom (and freedom!), tonight I’ll add an extra dab of whipped cream to my strawberry shortcake.
Won’t you to join me?
For others in this series, “Senior Health Issues: The Real Truth About Getting Old“
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