August 12th, 2011
I turn 70 on Saturday (Aug. 13). I don’t feel it, at least for most of the time.
I think the secret is being active in mind, body and spirit.
When I discovered that Martha Stewart also turned 70 this year, (Aug. 3), it made me realize that 70 is just a number. Some days I feel 80ish; other days 50ish. It’s all a matter of attitude — and activity.
No, Martha’s not an idol or role model; I just use her as an example of aging gracefully amid a mountain of activity. This woman publishes a magazine, does TV, writes, cooks and crafts ... and even went to jail. You get the idea? She has the zeal of a 30-year-old. And she certainly doesn’t look 70. So he is a model of getting older without being old. As in a discarded entity.
One recent morning over an assembled breakfast, I admitted to a few of my ex-colleagues at The Advertiser that this year was my big 7-0. They thought, and I quickly objected, that a party was in order. I don’t like the fuss of a cake with 71 candles —that’s at least four boxes of candles — so we’ll have a lunch, not a party. I hope so, anyway.
My wife Vi will take me out to dinner with our 13-year-old grandnephew John, who stays with us much of the week, and his mom, Kasha, will join us. Again, it’s dining out, not a party.
I’ll also assemble with a couple of other close friends for dinner another night. Something simple. No hoopla.
My party days are over. Getting together for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner is fine; it’s what a retiree should do. Eat, maintain contact with a chosen few; keep a sane pace.
I’m not in denial; not trying to undo or evade the 70th.
I'm proud to have made it this far, earning a few feathers in my newspaper cap along the way. I just don't want the spotlight. I had one when I retired. Well, I had several parties — including that humongous one with Waikiki’s best (my pals) performing. Remember?
When I look at my dad, who turned 95 on July 5, I feel privileged to have survived seven decades, remain in fairly good health (except for annoying and occasionally painful sciatica and earlier carpal tunnel syndrome issues). I shudder about the next decade or two, which could bring on cruel realities accompanying age.
There will be challenges with mobility, memory and everything else associated with the elderly. Dad still lives alone, by choice; but he really needs home care, but he rejects that notion. While he can bathe himself, but he can't cook or clean, so my sister and I bring in meals for him as needed to his modest apartment he and my late mom bought late in their lives. My wife and I do the housekeeping and laundry chores, too.
At 70, that’s a task. We have our own home and space to tend to and while my wife still works, I have some community commitments that require monthly meetings. Though retired, I still write a column and enjoy traveling — stuff you’re supposed to do when you’re pau hana.
I have plenty on my plate, but I left the stress of the work place when I retired. Stress adds to your aging; look at Barack Obama; he was fully black-haired when elected; look at him now, salt and pepper galore. I'm getting grayer by the year, too.
I don’t hike or golf or go to a gym, but I used to take infrequent walks. That’s the extent of exercise. A pinched nerve, causing sciatica, became an issue; this situation intensified during my recent New York trip, where walking is the only way to go (between subway rides). The pain recurred with expected regularity, prompting my wife to utter: “By next year, you’ll need a wheelchair.” I shudder at the prospect; I’ll struggle and cope and adjust the pace, allowing more time to get to destinations.
I am frequently busy, creating local-style note cards as a hobby, largely to share with friends and some “fans” who find them worthy of scribbling a note of aloha, thanks, whatever. This is where the mind works; the imagination; the creation; the execution. I like to experiment with local things, like food, and just concocted a card depicting BBQ sticks and loco moco, to complement a saimin number I’ve been doing for years.
This expression is linked to a tradition; I’ve always thought it was PC to formally write and send a note to anyone who does a nice thing for you, or express your aloha to someone special who did something special. Remember writing a card and mailing it and personalizing your sentiments ... instead of just pressing the “send” button on your computer? I’m still old school.
I am a proud owner of a Zippy’s Senior Card, which costs $3 for two years, but enables you to get a 10 per cent discount on food (excepting liquor and promotional meals, like the current Miso Garlic Chicken plate). No laugh; I use the card at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the discount includes Napoleon Bakery purchases, from birthday cake orders to Napoleons.
I acquired by AARP card years ago, but have only twice benefited from age-applicable discounts; the organization for seniors have not mined the hotels and car rentals that I general use.
Speaking of discounts, I know about those at Ross, Prince Court and Hakone at the Prince Hotel, Shirokiya, Don Quixote at St. Germaine Bakery and Shirokiya. I qualify for senior admission to films and local theater groups. There are age differences (60 or 65) and merchants’ senior days vary. One more “senior” benefit, at the tender age of 55, means discounted coffee at McDonald’s, Jack in the Box and Burger King.
So there, aging has privileges. In this troubled economy, any discount helps.