Sixty, whether it be in English, Roman numerals, Latin, French, or Chinese, it's still the same.
Sixty, okay...so what about it?
Well, that is how old I will be on Dec. 27th of this year, along with a whole lot of other Baby Boomers.
For me, it's a number I have not ever dwelled upon. I remember when a co-worker of mine was turning forty; he was very depressed. I didn't know why since he was only going to be forty. When that age rolled around, I had no issue. When fifty came by, I was nifty. When fifty-five came around I was “55 and Still Alive,” and I was going to the Y every day.
Fifty-seven, eight, and nine were no big deal. But this one, sixty, has me in a deep funk. Now I know what that guy felt like at forty. I've been thinking almost every day since November, what have I done with my life?
Am I experiencing my mid-life crisis?
Add to that, Dec. 27th is the first anniversary of my father's death. While I am sad his life ended the way it did, I don't feel bad about sharing that date with him. It has a special meaning to me: he and my mom brought me into the world on that date, and I was with him in his last moments of life.
His violent death though has awoken me to a terrible thought that there is such a thing as mortality. As I was growing up, I never thought of my death. I thought of my father living to be in his nineties because longevity ran in our family on his side. I never thought of anyone else in the picture creating his demise.
That and my new age have me thinking deep philosophical thoughts on the level of greats such as Linus, Charlie, Lucy, and maybe Socrates.
Sixty, it is a harsh number to awaken too. I am sure the Seventy, Eighty, and Ninety-year-olds will shake their heads and think I am goofy. Young whipper-snapper, they will say, wait till you get to be our age and then you can think about your life.
Sixty is a number playing repeatedly in my head. This last month and a half have been a wreck for me with a flare up of my bad back. My mind has been in a very low, dark place.
Sixty, for me, it is an upcoming period of reflection to remember what I've done, and what I wished to be.
As the date draws closer, I am doing much remembering.
I can remember as a child playing outside all day long from after breakfast, to lunchtime, then out again until dinner time, then out again till bedtime.
I remember the large family parties where the men would go smoke cigars in the front room and listen to Henny Youngman on the record player, tell jokes in Yiddish, and laugh while the women would clean up— and everyone was good with that.
I remember my Grandmother telling me to get her large bag of pennies from her bedroom when the ladies came over to play Kalooki (a card game)
I remember my uncle laughing and unmercifully cracking my knuckles. It was worth it because he would buy a full box of baseball cards at a time and we would open them together.
I remember pulling a chair out from behind the school bully as he was going to sit down and watching him fall to the floor. The class was full of laughter which quickly turned to moans as he angrily bellowed in a tone that shook my very bones— Lasaine, I will see you after school." That afternoon was when I learned how to talk fast and run even faster.
I remember my first swimming lesson when I was taken out to the deep area by an older boy, then sinking to the bottom of the pool and being saved. I thought maybe I was the exception to the rule that everyone floats.
I remember playing 'Hide the Matzo" on Passover. It was always in the pillow behind my Grandfather. Ha, these modern-day kids have no idea how much fun they are missing.
I remember being a tough guy at ten years old and calling my mom crazy, and then my father chasing me for blocks. He gave up after chasing me around a parked car. The whole time he encouraged me to run faster and faster with the words, "I will kill you." This motivational four worded speech pushed me to run so fast, the "Fear for Your Life" land speed record was shattered.
I remember the Blizzard of '67 and sliding down the snow-covered stairs and then playing outside all day building forts and having snowball fights. I also remember still having to go to school walking on high drifts of snow. (They did close school for a couple days).
I remember enviously watching kids "skitching" on the back of cars during the winter.
I remember running through neighbors’ yards and jumping fences to see the last inning of the Cubs games with the eternal hope of them winning— period.
I remember getting the newspaper each day in '69 and going right to the baseball standings to see the Cubs lost again and again and again.
I remember cutting the grass with a push mower. I pushed and I loved it, for I got a quarter to go buy baseball cards.
I remember every spring the WHOLE family would be outside with pitchforks, hoes, shovels, and rakes turning over the grass in the backyard. My grandfather believed it would make the grass grow back thicker and stronger. He had the same belief for my first haircut in which he had my long curls cut off. My grandmother yelled, my mother cried, but I still have all my hair. Thanks, Grandfather.
I remember hiding upstairs by the radiator in the synagogue when I was supposed to be at Hebrew lessons for my Bar Mitzvah. Too bad I didn't think to wear a watch to know when an hour was up. That afternoon I got a lesson in telling the truth courtesy of my father's foot and hand.
I remember my father coming to all my softball games. (I stunk as a player)
I remember going for long walks with my grandfather after dinner and holding his hand. These are memories to be cherished.
I remember moving and leaving all my best friends behind and going to a new home in a suburb I never heard of before— Hanover Park what?
I remember my Grandfather dying at the young age of 63, four months after we moved.That was the first time I hated God. It took me years to mourn and lose that empty feeling.
I remember asking the new kids to play and they said sure, how about hockey? They put all this hockey gear on while my brother and I had big winter coats and leather shoes. Spoiled suburban brats.
I remember my second swimming lesson years later and being pushed into the pool and again finding the bottom. (Spoiled suburban brats again, and proved my theory that not every one floats)
I remember my first day at a new school and wanting to fit in, I made a comment about the school bully. I found out for the next year and a half why he was the school bully. You may question if I was a glutton for punishment; however, I must have an inner child that liked to be beaten up.
I remember at age 13 my parents bought me a puppy that I named Mitzi. We put her in the bathroom with a box and a clock that ticked-tocked. She whimpered and I went to hold her in my lap. My mother woke me up to go to bed with my new best friend.
I remember Mitzi's soft tongue licking the tears off my face from the bully who chased me down each day after I got home. (My upcoming children story is about bullying)
I remember the first time my younger brother finally had enough of me being the big brother and actually fought back. There were fists flying and blows landed. The crowd was on their feet screaming, there was blood everywhere. Well, maybe a little more wrestling than anything else. Right, Steve?
I remember my first job as a newspaper boy and my father waking up early to help me deliver them as I sat on the back of his station wagon gate. (Don't worry Snowflake DCFS Child Abuse screamers...I never fell off)
I remember convincing my brother to help me deliver the papers after he delivered the papers for me.
I remember my second job, my third job, my fourth job, my fifth job, my sixth job, and my work program teacher lecturing me on keeping a job.
I remember how proud my dad was when I was elected to join the Order of the Arrow. A unique scouting group of which the only way to get in was to be elected by your fellow scouts. (That's when Boy Scouts were all boys and everyone was happy)
I remember starting up a softball team; the first year we were terrible. The second year we were a bit better, then the third, fourth, and fifth years, we were league champions. We were better than awesome and got invited to a state tournament at which we were destroyed.
I remember being married the first time and woke up as a responsible adult. Later in that marriage, we lost our baby girl, Mary. That was the first time I begged God to help let her live.
I remember my mom writing me a letter when I turned thirty. It was caring and loving telling me how proud she was of me. (I love you too Mom)
I remember the baked treats my mom would make, and I would eat a ton of them.
I remember seeing my first son born, watching the top of his head coming out. "All My Children" was on television at the time. Deservingly, his mother was missing the cliffhanger. Three days after he was born, he got to see his great-grandmother who said as she held him, "This is the greatest Hanukah gift I ever got." Four months later, she passed.
I remember speeding down the highway at crazy speeds when my second son was being born because his mother waited till she was 1 minute apart on her contractions and I had to stop for gas before we left. We had over thirty-five miles to get where we were going. We never got there because he decided to start coming out on the highway. I only knew this since my mind was on driving and dodging cars, by the screams of, “it's coming out!” Luckily, we got to a hospital for him to be born so quick she still had on her Hawaiian style shirt which prompted us to make, "Wish you were here" photos.
I remember taking pictures (I still have them) of my younger son crawling to the bathroom naked. HEY, every parent has a picture of their children put away for blackmail.
I remember the first time as a single father I had to give my little one medicine. He got earaches quite often. I had to shoot the medicine in his mouth with a syringe thingie. He started gagging and rolling around on the floor, I thought I was killing him.
I remember taking two monumental photos. One of my older son taking his first step, smiling and arms outstretched toward me, and the second the same day of him in his overalls sitting on the lawn intently studying the leaves in his tiny hands. (I knew then he was destined for greatness)
I remember my older boy asking me to buy books. Not the inexpensive paperbacks mind you, but hardcover version and even though it was hard to do; I did it because it was important to him. To this day, his desire to read and learn is wonderful.
I remember seeing my older son receive an award for excellence in the French program at his high school and standing up and feeling so proud as I clapped.
I remember my younger son playing baseball and over the years kept hearing the other parents and coaches say he was a "natural"
I remember my younger son make a running dive through the air to catch of a fly ball. I jumped up and yelled, “That's my boy!"
There are many things I remember about my life. One of the most special was when I was fourteen. I used to sit in my bedroom and wish I could be a father. My wish came true not only with my two sons but also with a special girl I met while dating a lady. The girl is a special needs person, and I will never forget the first time she called me “Daddy.” She will always be my Princess no matter where we are.
Maybe God did hear my begging and praying to save my daughter after all, for he brought her into my life NOT when I thought I needed, but in his time when he knew I was ready.
There is so much I remember but to list them all would just turn this into a book more than an article.
I've reflected on what I have done with my life. I have done much, but not enough.
I need to do as much as I possibly can in whatever time I am given. I'm naturally trying to figure out why God had to call my father in years before what most of us felt was too early.
But during this time, I will do whatever I can to leave my mark in this world. Having children was one part, and being in a young girls life is another. But I need to do more.
I am writing a book, maybe two more at an adult level and would love to do about 15 children stories. I also have been given a gift to write for Lanterns.buzz and to entertain you with my thoughts.
People ask me what I am going to do for Christmas. I believe I will go sit with the "Forgotten Ones" on Christmas. Who are they? They are the people that sit on the street in the cold with nowhere to go. They are the ones that stand in lines early in the morning for food. They are the ones that sit in wheelchairs or lay in beds just existing in facilities preparing for their end time.
Maybe being sixty isn't a bad thing. Maybe it has opened my eyes and mind to see there is so much waiting for me to explore, find, and to nurture those that do not have.
So, I guess I need a saying for sixty. Nah...I don't need any more sayings...just more doings.
How about you? What are you doing for Christmas?