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Signing up

By MIMI BECKER

Coffee with Mimi

No regrets. Live life to the fullest. Make every day count. Learn something. Don’t miss an opportunity to experience something new. Take a chance.

No matter how you say it, we are bombarded with opportunities to be doing something. Over the course of a lifetime, we are encouraged to be engaged in some activity which will educate, enrich, challenge or otherwise occupy our time. While we have children, we are also expected to provide for their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and educational needs. If we are unsure how to do that, we only need ask or look for assistance. 

My most significant task this past week was to sign up for Medicare. Thankfully, as a retired teacher, the process is beyond simple. So simple, I couldn’t believe it and actually sought  technical assistance which was cheerfully and professionally provided by a very nice young man who sounded younger than my own children. I wondered if he was trained to talk just so to retired teachers. 

The whole concept of Medicare sent me back to paragraph one. There are very few markers in life so time and situationally significant to me than Medicare. The event of that declaration that, in fact, my life is now identified by age and medical needs. Tick, tock. Getting married, having children and retiring from teaching were not nearly as time sensitive as turning 65. Tick tock.

The wonders of the modern age are completely against me. 150 years ago, a person my age would be accorded the dignity of a rocker on the front porch and family flocking to sit at my feet, waiting on me hand and foot while listening to my quaint ramblings of life on the frontier. 

Today, the mail brings retired people magazines featuring inspirational accounts of octogenarian marathon runners, mountain climbers and emerging entrepreneurs.They are all trim, fashionably dressed and glowing with their new-found and conquered pursuits. 

Apparently, not only do I not get to sit on the front porch, I’m not finished with the learn- something-new thing. I should take the opportunity of retirement to contribute to the good of society through well intentioned community activity, volunteering and, on the side, travel and thoughtfully selected intellectual pursuits. After all, I no longer need to be concerned about the impending surge of age related medical issues resulting in mountains of bills. I have Medicare.  This leaves me time for climbing mountains.

I am surrounded by people who live life to the fullest every day. They belong to book clubs, bridge clubs and political clubs. Their gardens are pictures of bounty and bloom worthy of tours and parties. They have embarked on second, creative careers at which they succeed and experience great personal satisfaction. They lead lives full of commitment and interest. 

It’s inspirational. Aren’t we lucky? We do live in a time when, because of so many factors such as medical advancements and technology, we have opportunities to give and do regardless of a particular age. We have even more opportunities because of a particular age.

Actually, it has always been that way. People who do and give have always done so.The arbitrary number on an insurance form is of no consequence to decision making. Now that I am   approaching that number sooner than later, I’m looking around with fresh perspective. 

Recently, a much younger woman with whom I share a volunteer role summed it all up. She is in the midst of raising her child, building a career and fitting in personal activities. She was admiring a woman who in her late 60s launched into a new economic and creative venture. Isn’t it great, the 20-something young woman said, she has 20 years to grow and develop her skills. This is a time in her life when she can really explore the possibilities. 

Of course, we have no idea how many years we have to grow and explore. We never know.

How silly to waste a single one.  Certainly, a Medicare form shouldn’t be a factor.

The point is choice. Age gives us choice. The 20s, 30s and 40s of our lives were consumed with activities in which we had so much responsibility: raising children and supporting their start in life, building for our own security before it is too late and so on.    

Being 65 is awesome! If genetics have anything to do with it, I have 30 years to do and explore.  Both my grandfathers made it to the mid 90s. 

I like to hike, not quite the same as mountain climbing, but adventurous enough. If I have some latent artistic talent, I wish it would show itself, but in the meantime, I will putter. My gardening travails are legendary, but I have given in and turned over the time consuming task of mowing, so the possibility of a colorful yard might improve.

I will also happily sit on the porch with an adorable grandchild who will listen to my stories of whatever I choose to share whenever she is around.