Nobody is ever 79 years old. It's nearly the big 80, but it isn't 80.
When a kid is 9 years old, he will want everyone to know he is almost 10. Kids that age are always "going on" to the next number. "I'm going on 13." the kid says. But he may be 9 years old and just can't wait to be a teen ager. Any kid on that side may say he's going on 13, and so he is. Some just have a bigger run at it than others. But I'm not in a hurry to tell everyone I'm going on 80. Wouldn't that raise eyebrows? "Hey, friends, I'm turning 80." Or how about this, "I've just started my 8th decade." Baloney! I'm not turning anything. I'm not going on anything. A lot may happen in a year, and like my father in law used to imply, it's getting to the point that buying green bananas is being very optimistic.
When a pretty young lady is 29, she is very sensitive about her age. She wants you to realize she is still in her 20s and has not passed that dreaded marker of 30. She may spend a little money erasing wrinkle lines that no one else can see. Her "laugh lines" display far to much hilarity in her career, so she supposes. Consequently she is bold to correct anyone who is misled about that and assert that she is 29. In fact she seems to make that point so many times that one gets the feeling she has been saying this for several years.
Jack Benny was 39 forever. I think he was still 39 when he died at ninety something. It makes for good natured joking. But there is no joke nor is there anything good natured about insisting that everyone knows I am 79. It's a big nothing I say.
For some there comes the mood to brag about longevity. An old geezer may well be proud that he still enjoys his stogies and bourbon at the ripe old age of 109. Everybody expected him to die from lung cancer or cirrhosis of the liver before now. So he is sort of having the last laugh by blowing smoke and announcing his age. I'll drink to that.
But that doesn't happen at 79. Nothing happens at 79. That's not retirement age. Everyone in the world is giving senior discounts long before you ever reach that non-descript marker of 79. Newspaper editorials, or letters to the editor, may suggest that I should surrender my driver's license. Now and again a tragic auto accident involves a septuagenarian, and someone will howl for my license. Someone hit the accelerator instead of the brake. It could happen to anyone, but when you're my age, it becomes a class action persecution. This seventy something year old just plowed through a crowd at a Farmer's Market, therefore all licenses should be revoked at age seventy, or seventy nine.
The age of 70 sounds like a true mile marker. Seventy five is 3/4 of a century. But 79 is a big nothing. When kids talk about growing up they sometimes imagine an ideal age. Was there a time when you wished you were 18? Or maybe 21 or 25? Well, when was the last time you wished you were 79?
So I say my seventy ninth birthday is a big nothing. I didn't ask for it, and if you plan a surprise party for me, I will find a way to shock some sense into you. Us old geezers have learned a few things in all these years, and I might try one of them. A seventy nine year old streaker is not a pretty sight. In the first place, he is definitely not a streaker. His miserably misshapen body gains no attractiveness by losing its clothes. And he may more accurately be called a hobbler or a shuffler rather than a streaker.
Okay, the streaker thing is a little too radical for my taste too. But don't try the surprise party. You'll be sorry.
I know that I am glad to be alive. I know that my kind Heavenly Father has my life ordered out for me. My genetic father died in his early 50s of a massive heart attack. Now, ever since my heart attack, I waken each morning thanking God for another day. I do not specifically thank Him for being 79, but I thank Him for His loving providence that allows me one more day to live with my best friend and companion. All this and heaven too. That can't be beat.
Okay, this post sounds like I'm bitter, and I really am not. I still say, however, that a 79th birthday is a big nothing.