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Sixty two

By Mike Ruffin I turned sixty-two years old on September 24. My college students think that makes me ancient. Some of you think I’m still young. Those of you were also born in 1958 are probably thinking, ‘Yeah, me too.’ To my contemporaries, I say, ‘I’m glad we made it.’ I also say, ‘I wish we all had.’ Anyway, turning sixty-two is no big deal. Then again it is. For one thing, I’m now old enough to retire. I’m not going to retire, but I could if I needed or wanted to do so. I feel a sense of accomplishment in this. I’ve worked my whole life. It’s nice to know I could stop. On the other hand, I wouldn’t stop working even if I retired. I mean, I’d stop going to the office every day, but I’d still work. I wouldn’t be an editor anymore, but editing is only one thing I do. I’m also a writer, a preacher, and a teacher. I hope and plan to keep doing those things for as long as I’m physically and mentally able to write and talk in coherent ways. (I started to say in ways that make sense, but I’m perfectly coherent now, and I’m fully aware that much of what I say doesn’t make sense to some folks.) Another reason turning sixty-two is a big deal to me is that I’m getting to the point where I can say I’ve lived a lot longer than my parents did. My mother died at fifty-three and my father at fifty-seven. I suppose until I passed fifty-seven, I had the thought in the back of my mind that I might be genetically predisposed not to make it to sixty, but now I’m two years past it. There’s no deep meaning to that fact, but I have lived long enough to be within shouting distance of a golden wedding anniversary (if I shout real loud), to still be here for my grown children, and to get to know my grandchildren, none of which my parents got to do. I’m grateful. A third reason that turning sixty-two is significant to me is that I had to live sixty-two years to get here. They have been sixty-two full and meaningful years. I have had sixty-two years of experiences that have brought me to this point in my life. I’ve had sixty-two years of knowing and being known. I’ve had sixty-two years of loving and being loved. I’ve had sixty-two years of studying, learning, and thinking. I’ve had sixty-two years of growing, evolving, and changing. I’ve had sixty-two years of falling down and getting up. I’ve had sixty-two years of failing and succeeding. I’ve had sixty-two years of relating to people and of trying to get away from people. I’ve had sixty-two years of being amazed at how wonderful life can be and of being shocked at how terrible it can be. I’ve had sixty-two years of befuddlement peppered with glorious moments of clarity. I’ve had sixty-two years of the joy of growing closer to some and of the sorrow of growing apart from others. In other words, I’ve had sixty-two years of life. As the old man in the Jimmy Buffet song says, ‘Some of it’s magic, and some of it’s tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.’ Thanks be to God.

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