Bob Bestler

Living on borrowed time, and not even in an Air Stream

So out of the blue, the wife begins a conversation that goes something like this:

Wife: Maybe in about five or six years we should sell our home, buy an Air Stream and just travel around the country, living in state parks and national preserves.

Me: You do know that in five or six years I’ll be 81 or 82, don’t you? How am I going to go gallivantin’ across the country at that age?

Wife: Oh, pshaw. (Well, she didn’t actually say pshaw. But she could have.) You won’t be old. Anyway isn’t 81 the new 61?

Me: Yeah. That’s what they say. What do they know?

Actually, I think I’m caught in a trap of my own making.

I’ve bragged for years that I feel younger than I should at my age; now she’s tossing it back at me.

And as we talked I was reminded of a couple of fellow golfers, in their 80s and playing better than I did in my 20s. Forget Tiger Woods; these guys are my new heroes.

So maybe there is life after 80.

The Centers for Disease Control, in fact, says Americans are living longer these days and I guess that’s encouraging to us aging coots.

In a CDC paper published this year, Dr. Jiaquan Xu noted the number of Americans over the age of 100 is rising dramatically.

“Although centenarians are still uncommon, the number of Americans aged 100 and over increased 43.6 percent, from 50,281 in 2000 to 72,197 in 2014,” Xu said.

He said the shift, in that time period, is primarily because the percentage of early deaths decreased significantly for heart disease, stroke and influenza and pneumonia, for both men and women.

Some of us, as well, are eating healthier foods and exercising more regularly.

The CDC offered a few more numbers that are not quite as rosy-sounding, especially for a guy fast approaching his 77th birthday. To wit:

▪  Life expectancy in the United States is 78.8

▪  Life expectancy for women is 81.2.

▪  Life expectancy for men is 76.4.

You’d think I could take heart from those stats. At 76.8, I've already outlived the CDC table for men by four months.

That would be fine except it means I’m now living on borrowed time. Put another way, I’ve passed my use-by date. Woe is me.

The wife, meanwhile, has not quite reached her 70th year and she’s the one who could be living another 10 to 15 years.

I sure hope she can find someone swell to accompany her on those cross-country journeys. In our Air Stream.

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