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One of my earliest Massapequa Observer columns from 2017 broached a very personal subject for me. After writing a few columns about life in Massapequa, my editor liked them so much she asked me to keep submitting something every week. Although Massapequa is a beautiful place to live and raise a family, developing a Massapequa-themed column each week would not be easy.
So, I reached into my bag of tricks and decided to submit a column about me.
I submitted a humorous column with the catchy title of “The ‘S’ Word,” detailing my inner feelings about turning sixty. It turned out to be one of my most popular columns and helped launch my career as a columnist, broadening my pool of exciting subjects to talk about.
In the five years since the publication of that column, I’ve had more than 230 columns published, won a bunch of Media Awards from the Press Club of Long Island (“Long Island Living” was voted best column in 2021), and published two books. Not too shabby, eh?
But now, I stand on the precipice of turning 65.
Many people from my generation never thought about getting this old. In our eyes, surviving until 65 meant an automatic end of our working days and transitioning into sweet retirement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way.
First things first. For my age group, the Social Security retirement age for full benefits is 66 and a half, not 65. That moves the calendar out to August of 2023 for me. That doesn’t mean I will retire at that point; it just means I can. Of course, I could retire tomorrow if I want and begin collecting social security.
As the youngest in my group of friends, some have already retired. My wife turned in her papers to the New York City Police Department over ten years ago. They all talk about the freedom and the perks of no longer working.
But I’m still working. I have an excellent job with Northwell that I’m in no rush to give up. I had hoped that when I was ready to retire, my wife and I could travel and do things without regard for vacation days from work. But even that is being put on hold as I try and work out some back pain issues since falling off a step stool last April.
I signed up for Medicare last month, and suddenly, I’m paying more attention to those commercials with Joe Namath and Jimmy JJ Walker. I wondered if my zip code made me eligible for all those additional benefits (it does not).
Somehow, turning 65 doesn’t seem quite as traumatic as turning 60. I never worried about making it to 30, 40 or 50. I was actually looking forward to those. But 60 was a different story, a real shock to the system. It wasn’t a milestone birthday I was looking forward to. Now, I am secretly looking forward to the next couple of milestones, mainly to see if I can make it to them.
Now that 60 is in the rearview mirror, and 65 is here, I’m learning to embrace it. While working out my back problems, I’ve noticed people are very kind to someone with a cane. It’s like I’ve suddenly turned into a pretty girl. Guys open doors for you or politely ask you if you need help. Soon, I’ll get a handicap sticker for my car and become one of those guys who rage against people parking illegally in those spots.
I’m blessed to have gotten this far in life, and I’m certainly not ready to punch out. I’ve got so much to look forward to (like my son Kevin’s wedding this year) and plenty of columns to write for you, dear reader. Thank you for tagging along with me on this journey we call life.
We’ve got a lot more to talk about…