Friday Firesmith – 62 Today

“Most Likely to Die Before 21” was the running joke in high school as to where my future lay. I was eighteen when I graduated, and no one really thought I would live to see the year after high school, much less three years later. 

I turn sixty-two as I write this. November the 9th is my birthday.

If you have never felt old, wait until you apply for Social Security. I applied when I could, in case it doesn’t exist anymore in a few years. My first check will be here next month. Spending my social security check is going to be epic. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I’ll make it interesting. 

More than a few people I have known in life, I have outlived. There were some surprises. Others expected. Cancer has taken more people I’ve known than any other means of death. There’s been a murder, car crashes, heart attacks, and drug overdoses, including alcohol. 

People I grew up with are great grand parents now. That’s scary. People I grew up with are overweight, dying, addicted, and some are broke, too. That’s also scary, even more so than having three generations to deal with. 

Since moving out here to Hickory Head, Bert, Sam, Lucas have died, and Tyger Linn was killed. I’ve been married and divorced since moving out here. I had one truck taken from in a divorce, one truck traded in for a better one, and one killed in a wreck. I’ve had the same one now for ten years. 

Both my parents are alive, as are both my siblings. 

I can still run a mile in nine minutes, twenty seconds. 

I quit smoking in 2005. 

I’ve lived long enough to see humans land on the moon, the first black president, the reunification of Germany, the eradication of Small Pox, watched a modern day plague envelope the whole world, and the Atlanta Braves win the World Series twice. 

Things I am unlikely to live to see is humans landing on Mars, a woman president, the reunification of Korea, and the Atlanta Falcons winning the Super Bowl. As the Falcons are nearly one hundred games under .500 I can’t even hope to see them break even before I die of old age. 

But there is always hope. Unless we can’t get climate change under control. 

I worked with men who were bitter at this stage of their lives. They retired without vision or a plan, and seemed to think retirement would make them young again, but alas! This is not to be. Getting older only means you are not dead yet. It means working harder to stay alive. It means the wisdom you’ve collected over the decades might be less relevant. It means the pool of people who find you irresistibly sexy is getting smaller each year. It means watching people die, because you outlived them. But this is exactly how things are, and how they should be, and if you are smart, or stubborn, you’ll find joy in these years, and you’ll find a place of being where happiness thrives. 

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

19 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – 62 Today”

  1. Looking back from this end of my life, I was thinking my life was unique, very different from everyone else. It was in the details but the big picture was surprisingly similar to what I hear other people relate.

    Enjoy your check.
    I retired some years back at the end of February. I contacted Social Security to get the ball rolling so when I turned 65 in September it would be set to go. But they surprised me by saying since I was turning 65 that year they would start my SS from January and sure enough in June I got a check for 6 months.

  2. At 77, I can certainly relate to most of your observations. When I was 38, my best friend choked to death and he got to ride in a hearse. Being relatively young, the funeral procession went on for an impressive amount of time. When my Grandmother passed at 88, her procession was the hearse and two cars. She had outlived all of her friends. Rule of thumb: If your procession is very limited, either you died at an old age, or nobody liked you!

  3. Happy Birthday! I’m glad you made another one. I think there are many of us who would be missing you if you hadn’t.

    I’ve seen a few of the things you have as well. The re-unification of Germany is an interesting one. I lived there before the wall came down, and would love to go back and visit just to see the changes. I’d like to see the changes period. It’s been quite some time, I lived there as a teenager.

    I’ve thought about retirement, I have a few years left before I can seriously do it. I am hoping to move somewhere else. Texas is not where I want to spend my “golden years.” Partly due to the weather. I don’t mind the hot, hot summers. But this rainy, monsoon crap has got to go. Also the freezing thing. That’s a no from me.

  4. Richard, I’ve seen that, too. I suspect funerals are going to become a thing of the past as more people are cremated or go with nontraditional end of life processes that forgo cemeteries.

  5. Chick, Georgia weather isn’t that bad, but in the last couple of years the ticks have been unreal. I’m hoping it’s a passing phase, but damn. It was terrible this year.

  6. Some cemeteries are trying to stay current. We have two mausoleum spaces bought and paid for at a local cemetery, a standard for me and a smaller space for the wife’s urn.

    • Richard, that is dying out. Mostly, some of it is space, it’s getting expensive to buy land. Some of it is maintenance, the owners have to pay people to keep the places up. But mostly I think it’s a shift from how people feel about the living, and therefore, think less of the dead. I think you might see sites pop up where people grieve for their Xbox when it dies, however.

  7. Happy belated birthday Mike. Applying for SS was quite an experience for me. I shared my father’s first name though we had different middle names. So all my life I have gone by my middle name. Through some quirk my SS card was in my middle and last name. Went I went to the local SS office they absolutely freaked. I had to get a new card using my first name. All business with SS and Medicare had to be done using my first name. I became my father (he passed some years ago). It has taken awhile but I’ve gotten used hearing my first name enough to respond to it instead of looking around for my father.
    Speaking of funeral processions, the night before my father’s funeral we had a big snow. When we arrived at the church a road grader was clearing the street in front then proceeded to clear the road to the cemetery. I had to smile because being a grader operator was a big part of my dad’s life and he had trained most of the operators in the area, including the one working that day.

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