I though of the a news broadcast I had just watched on the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. Like most people I can remember exactly where I was on the day the president was assassinated. While still in my early teens, I heard the news and watched the adults and teachers around me crying, and so I along with all my classmates started crying. It is hard for me to believe that this was 50 years ago. Which brings me to the title of this piece; I can’t believe I’m that old. I can barely remember my youth other than to say I grew up in a family that had; a mom and dad, brother and sisters We all live together in a small house in a small town almost like the family we watched on TV. I grew up both on a farm and in a small town that had no cultural diversity. My world was simple and what seemed to be direct with defined goals and high expectations.
This morning while sitting on the porch, I fond it hard to believe that I’m 67 years old. While in my teens I thought that I would not live to be 30 years old. It was an age that seemed to be in the distant future. With the threat of the Russians sending nuclear bombs to descend upon my school and family, it seemed hard think past the age of 30. I can still remember the drills then, the hiding under a desk on next to a brick wall. As if these movements would save me from an atomic bomb.
Then in my late teens have found myself trying to go to college and waiting each year to see what my number would be in the draft. It was during my sophomore year at Indiana university I decided to join the army. From the age of 19 to the age of 21 my life, my hopes, my fears and my expectations of life severly changed. I received a crash course in cultural diversity while going through basic training. I met many young men from different cultures, different backgrounds and different languages. Like many men, I was sent to fight in Vietnam. I had not even heard of Vietnam in school. And after completing officer candidate school, I was only told that as a second lieutenant in the infantry my life expectancy in Vietnam was three days. After a period of time in that hell hole I became hardened and distant with all the people in my life. I was thrilled when I got the orders to go home (back to the USA) and I jumped on a plane without changing out of my battle fatigues. I landed in San Francisco and while getting off the plane and walking to the terminal, people called out to me calling me a baby killer while many tried to spit on me and as I walk to get my bag. In shock I collected my belongings and tried to get my head around where just happened. When I got home I followed what I thought was the American dream of finding a girl, getting married, having children and buying a house.
My twenties and thirties seemed to go by in a flash. I spent my time and energies trying to be a good dad, I good husband and a good cop. I work for the city of Los Angeles as a police officer and then a detective. With all the many adventures and cases that I was involved in the year seem to fly by. I did not have time to think of how old I was and that I was reaching 40 years old when I felt like I was 21. Like most people the 40th birthday was the first time I looked at my age has being old. It was at this time I started to prepare for retirement. Retirement was always something that was talked about from the first days on the job until the actual event. But, no matter how I talked about it, i was not prepared for it.
I went into retirement with some preconceived ideas, one of which was to move away from the big city and live on a lake. Somehow, I thought I would fish my life away. As it turned out I went back to work. I worked for another 20 years. I felt most comfortable while having the purpose of going to work. Before I knew it I was 60 years old. I had a large party with my friends, my family and my coworkers. I felt good, not like what I thought a 60 year old man would feel like, so I kept on working. A few years later I was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. And even though I knew that it was a very treatable and survivable cancer I went into a form of shock and decided to retire. This time I move far away from anyone that I knew and I bought a house in the middle of the woods seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Today, I am as busy as I have ever been, not with a job but with enjoying life. I feel blessed to be alive and living with my wife. I do not think I would be so happy if it were not for her in my life. But I still do not believe I am 67 years old. I do not feel old rather I feel alive with energy and hoped for the future. I do not feel like it’s time to slow down but rather I want to live through and experiments new adventures. I am fortunate that any medical problems I have do not stop me from getting around. I am reminded of the story of the young man an old man. During a conversation the young man asked how old the old man was. He answered -84. The young man boldly stated I hope that I am dead befor I am 84. The old man stated you won’t say that when your 83. Again I think of that age is being old, but I hope that when I reach that age I will again write down-I can’t believe that I am that old.