Today is Peter's eighty-first birthday. In addition to making me very happy for forty-six years, he has made me recalibrate what it means to be old. Sure he's wrinkly and a little bit stooped (I do recall his amazing posture when we met—compared to my life-long slump). Sure he has several pretty serious ailments, including Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, and more. But this man is about as upbeat as they come.
The other day I asked him why he seemed so happy. I wanted to know why he can make me laugh every day. And why he works so hard at staying well despite his health challenges. He tells me he has a good life. His mind is working just fine (although he would say not as quickly) and he is engaged in several activities that require him to use it. He works out extensively every day (he is pretty sure that exercise is crucial to his well-being). And I know he gets pleasure from seeing me happy.
Lest you think he is too perfect, he gets irritated with me when I interrupt him, his desk is a mess, and he is never happy when I remind him to get a much-needed haircut.
My father always used to kid my mother—telling her at age fifty that he was going to trade her in for two twenty-five year olds. Fortunately for all of us, (including the twenty-five year olds) that never happened.
Would I trade Peter for two forty and a half year olds?
Not on your life.