This birthday is passing quietly with no fanfare, announcements or celebration. It isn’t a major milestone (other than the fact that I have survived yet another year).
In Germany, you really celebrate the decade birthdays. In the US, well there are milestone years – 21, 40, 65… which most people seem to think are of import. The first because it is now the “age of adulthood” as far as drinking in the US. Never mind you can marry, join the military or sign contracts at 18 – ETOH seems to be what most people equate with adulthood. 40 is a magic number. It has been traditionally that year in which you really have to acknowledge that you are an adult. You are supposed to be firmly ensconced in job/family and all the other accoutrements of settled responsibility. And, let us not forget, you might just be over half way through with your life. 65? That one used to be obvious. It was the standard retirement age recognized by the US government as being both eligible to collect your social security AND being on the Medicare rolls.
Now, let me reflect for a moment. At 21 I was through undergraduate and looking at medical school. Drinking? I did ‘t have the money for that. Besides, legal drinking age in Minnesota at that time was 18. Meaning, of course that just about everyone who wanted to drink in high school was able to do so. The average family size in my area was 5.6 children (hello? high school stats class). Just about everyone had an older brother/sister/cousin etc who didn’t mind buying and supplying a six-pack or some of what was considered the height of sophistication – Boon’s Farm Apple or MadDog 20/20.
At 40 I was stationed at Ft Drum busy being a division surgeon. This was about nine years into my military career. Interesting events including hatching Noah (being pregnant at 40 was less fun than at earlier ages), Hurricane Andrew, relocating to the Army Surgeon General’s Office for an “interesting 2 year tour.” (think Gilligan’s Island). Did I think ½ my life was gone? No clue, I hardly had time to think. Did I think I was an adult? Well, I masqueraded as one. Had to as I was in a couple of positions “of significant responsibility” as the phrase goes. Being a parent of an infant and toddler at that age really balances the scales in the direction of claiming, at least superficially, to be an adult. The Eldest was spared the worst of provincial Ft Drum.
At 65? I was out to sea. Literally. I made sure after getting invited to retire in 2011 that I was never, ever anywhere that someone would feel obligated to call me out or make a fuss. I was an adult as far as the military went. In fact, I was considered well “past my prime” as they had the too many years of service and, BTW, you are “old too” point of view. As far as Medicare went? I figured out that the VA qualified and spared myself the hunk that everyone else gets taken out of their retirement paycheck every month. Unlike Medicare – the VA will actually pay for emergency care (service related which everything is for me) anywhere in the world as long as I notify them promptly.
So here I am, waving goodby to another year while relaxing in Rome. Interesting meeting, good knowledge. Safe and secure in the knowledge that no one knows and or cares about my age.