Three Score and Five

October 16, 2013

I just turned sixty-five. My thoughts veered crazily from “It’s just another day” to “How can this possibly be?!?”

Sixty-five. That’s old folk territory. Or it least it used to be when I myself was younger. Now I subscribe to the revisionist positions such as “sixty-five is the new forty.” It’s all about perspective. One learns such nuggets of wisdom when one is old.

I spent some time reflecting on those things I no longer do. Running is one of those things. The combination of age and injuries brought an end to a decades-long ritual that became an integral and fulfilling part of my existence. I miss it. I no longer write with anywhere near the frequency I once did, not e-mails to friends or stories on this blog. I’m not sure why that is. I’m no longer part of the teaching career which filled my being for my entire adult life. I miss the vibrance of the kids and the daily camaraderie of my colleagues (though, after hearing their stories lately, not the ever-increasing bureaucratic burdens).

But there are abundant blessings for which I am thankful that more than balance those absences. My wonderful friends who in spite of my periods of disappearance keep me in their fold. My new students, adult immigrants who are invisible to most but who have become a part of my life. The ability to still get out and about to enjoy the beauty which permeates this world. I now walk several miles almost every day; slowing down does have the advantage of being able to see things more clearly. Most of all my loving wife who has now shared the last forty years together with me in spite of my many shortcomings.

The sun shone brightly on the morning of my initial day of sixty-five. This was the first of many gifts . Birthday wishes from friends old and new arrived on my Facebook page. Juan Carlos and Lili and Sofia called to give me their lilting greetings. Bernadette and I enjoyed breakfast out at our favorite spot followed by a walk in the crisp air and falling leaves of the changing season. I checked my e-mail to find the latest story by Faith, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand who has become my online friend. Her beautiful words washed over me like the scent of lavender orchids that surrounded her. Whitey and Gigi, our friendly neighborhood cats, came up on the deck to visit, a reminder of the small pleasures that are often overlooked in the bustle of everyday routine.

This gave rise to a larger reflection on my life. Looking back, I wonder where the time has gone, whether that time has been well spent, whether my deeds have had any real meaning. I think every life is like a pebble thrown into the water. The ripples of its impact move outward in circles. The pebble sinks to the bottom, but the ripples continue on their own, spreading ever outward far beyond the point from which they began.

I think of something Faith had written: “…this life is precious. So let it take you, let the days surround you and let the minutes define you as you recognize that those minutes and those days, they are all you really have. They will fly by you, so don’t waste them. Work to understand, and learn to accept. Laugh and love those around you. Try today — try right now — to be the person you always said you would be.”

I don’t know where all the ripples of my life have gone, who or what they may have affected. I hope it was more for the good than not. But my soul will rest peacefully as my pebble settles into the silt if it can be said of me that I did indeed try to be the person I always said I would be.




  1. I can’t possible tell you about all the effects of the “ripples” of your life; however, I can attest to the ripples you made to your students. So many of them have gone on to teaching because of you. In today’s society that may be seen as a bad move. However, I know they went into the field because you moved them and enlightened them.
    I guess the best birthday wish you can get when you turn 65 ( besides Medicare) is to know you’ve made a difference in the lives of children.
    You may not be in that old classroom anymore but the effects of those years do continue to “ripple.”

    • Thank you, Tony. Those words mean a lot, especially coming from one who has created so many positive ripples in his life.

  2. This is awesome. Yes you made my life in middle school so special- there was no one in high school who could come close. Love you!

    • That was a year made special by the people around me, and none more so than you. I am thankful the paths of our lives have crossed once again.

  3. This is gorgeous. I hope you know you’re one of the few teachers I’ve had who helped me to realize who it is I want to be — your words and influence will always be echoing through my life

    • There could be no greater gift than your words. Thank you, Cara.

  4. The ripple effect didn’t stop in your classroom, it when far beyond the students you taught. I for one can attest that your wisdom and insight got me through many hard times. Sometimes you let me babble out loud and you never said a word and sometimes you would say to me, “the great chief so n so would retreat to fight another day”. I would walk out of your room thinking about what you just said and everything made sense after that and I survived another day. Your Buddy,Room 25.

  5. Thank you, Dave, both for your kind words and your continual friendship.

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