Monday, June 8, 2015

On Being Eighty

   Must be I am truly into geezer territory now.  A month or so ago I reached a milestone birthday of 80 years.   Now entering my ninth decade.  Oh where oh where did the time go!  The step is a little slower but I still like to think that exercise and good living can slow the ravages of time.
   There have been a lot of interesting events since my 80th birthday in April.  A particular notable event was my 80th family birthday party in Saratoga Springs on May 3rd.   A date arranged so lovingly by my wife almost a year in advance.  It takes that amount of early planning to get all the family in one place in view of their many different schedules.   As one who has parented seven children (four biological and three who have become my children through marriage) I have enjoyed a rich and fulfilling variety of experiences.   All of them bring to the party spouses, companions, children and even offspring of their children.   Yes, I am even a great-grandfather three times over.
It was amazing that all but two of the grandchildren were there.   One had a work conflict and the other was on a semester of studies in Israel.   What a delight to celebrate with the crew.   They made me feel like king for the day.   Perhaps I should be identified more with Abraham of the bible!   He had a complicated family tree for sure.   Dear wife Nancy provided amazing activities.   There was a scavenger hunt,  activity bags for the little ones and a trivia exercise challenging the family to answer questions about my life.   A most wonderful day of food, entertainment, photography, and socializing.  Makes me hopeful to reach 90 to have another great milestone celebration.
   At Cornell on May 24th I joined the faculty procession for Cornell graduation.   This is the Sesquicentennial year for Cornell.   150 years since the charter in April of 1865.   In my 80th year I mark 62 years of association with Cornell starting with my first undergraduate year in 1953.   It was a progression of undergraduate, to graduate student to faculty and more recently professor emeritus.   Not half of Cornell's existence, but pretty close.   The oak trees lining Tower Road on campus when I arrived were young trees if not nearly saplings.  Now they are mighty oak trees with trunks two or more feet in diameter.
    Not all events in ones eightieth years are likely to be joyful.   There is also the time to mourn contemporaries who pass on.   Such was the case on May 30 at a service for a class of 1952 high school classmate.    A service at his church in my home town was a celebration of his lifetime in his birth community.   It was an amazing tribute to a  happy-go-lucky fellow with an upbeat demeanor and a zest for life.   I would observe that everyone has the opportunity to leave a unique legacy, regardless of your calling in life.
   With this new age milestone, I have move into a new bracket in the Empire State Senior Games.   Some of my usual tennis opponents are still languishing in the 75-79 bracket.  Looking forward to some of them joining me next year.   Meanwhile, my bracket is rather thin with only one opponent in the bracket this year.   We had a spirited contest in the "final".   A close match that I regret to have choked in the tie-breaker after a strong lead early on.   Ah well at this point my mantra becomes.   "For the love of game".   Also, at this point showing up is a win.
    So, being eighty is really just another step along the way.   Each day is a gift to be enjoyed to the fullest.   For this day, I had hoped to play tennis this afternoon.  However, the weather is dreadful with rain, wind and lightning.   Time to crank up the treadmill!   Remember, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day is a goal for good health.   Maybe I better get one of those FitBits.
The Little Ones - Great grandchildren plus a mom of two.

The Grandchildren minus two.

The Children.


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