Start holding tightly onto 59 tomorrow

By: Tom Rupp
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So it’s here, the big day. Fifty-eight is a thing of the past and tomorrow I start the 365-day journey with 59. I’ve never been 59 before. Some of my friends along the way died before reaching this age.

Thank you God for the opportunity to have gotten this far. The past few years I put my birthday announcement out on Facebook and tallied the responses before answering each one individually.  

For some reason, or no reason, this year I am laying low. You can call me “Low T.” Just feel kind of tired. Maybe it’s the smoky air we’ve been breathing. It’s okay, no problem, just the way it is. As Simon and Garfunkel sang, “The leaves that are green turn to brown.”

My three siblings are already journeying into their 60s. Yes, I was the baby, which has its benefits and its burdens. Thankfully all four of us continue onward. One of these days three of us will have to say goodbye to the first one to leave. It’s the way of all flesh.

“Happiness is a Choice You Make” by John Leland is an interesting book. The New York Times columnist spent a year with six people older than 85 years old (“the oldest old”), walking with them and charting their journey. It includes many insights, including old age is the gift that keeps on taking. Check it out from our library like I did.

In 1868, British Prime Minister Gladstone called 59 “a steepening path, with a burden ever gathering weight.”

Is it wrong to say I don’t want much of anything for my birthday? A card would be nice. I hold onto them (see last week’s column). How about some fried chicken? That’s about it. Please don’t interpret it as ungratefulness. Rather, it is a limitation of expectation. Again, it’s okay, no problem.

Recently while driving, the 38 Special song came on that says, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go, if you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.” That dichotomy may seem contradictory to a younger mind, but by the time you hit 59, it all begins to make sense.

One morning recently, in the backyard, here came a large yellow monarch butterfly, dancing and flitting, then perched on a branch. We sat there together for a while and then eventually it took off and zigzagged away, much like 58, and all of the other years, have done.

Tom Rupp is a resident of Folsom and a weekly columnist in the Folsom Telegraph. You can reach him at