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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Seventy Nine Years old and Counting My Blessings

by Max Roytenberg, January 30, 2013

So, my next birthday takes me to seventy-nine. Almost eighty.

To me that is astounding. My Dad died peacefully (I hope) in his sleep at the age of sixty-seven. That’s all that I expected, (hoped for,) if I were lucky. Yet, here I am.

And I AM lucky. I have a companion in my life with whom my nostalgia moments are actually shared memories. What a pleasure that is! What a great blessing that is. My heart goes out to all those who once had that in their lives and lost it. How many of my contemporaries are still out there. I thought I should get this out soon while there is still somebody out there who might know what I am talking about.

The kids are out there with their own kids, making their way in a much more complex world than we ever dreamed of when we were being bedeviled by the challenges we worried were more than a man could ever handle. Looking back at what we did, we wonder- did I do that? And get the attitude! I just expected I would surely find the answers that I needed to have. Such confidence! Overconfidence? We just didn’t seem to realize that what we were attempting to do was impossible. Just because others had failed didn’t mean we couldn’t do it. After all, this was us doing the talking. Even if we didn’t have the answers, we assumed the  answers would come to us if we tried. So we tried. And they did. It makes us much more tolerant of those crazy young ones we meet who are so in your face. Much better that than the other way.

Ok, so some of the stuff we have to cope with today, this wave of technology washing over us, boggles the mind. But what the heck, we learned to drive cars without being able to repair them. They are so complex today that we replace instead of repairing, anyway. So we can learn to use these things without knowing what they are all about. And we don’t have to have the latest after all. Isn’t it great to be able to call our kids all over the world without worrying the bill will put us in the poor house. And being able to read a book without  lugging the book with you. Pretty soon-well, even now-you can carry your computer in your pocket and you can access any library in the world. Goodbye to the old encyclopoedia. I’m waiting for the car that drives itself so I don’t have to worry about the driving test after eighty and the cost of insurance. Ain’t that really grand? Now if I can only figure out how to wear my bifocals so I can see straight.

Most of all I really like that there is so much pleasure left in our lives, assuming the minor pains that are part of staying alive can be kept at bay. Stuff wearing out is a continuing hazard, and we are nervous about the costs of medical and hospital, and who will take care of us when we go ga-ga. That is worrisome. But when we get together with friends, or kids, and maybe eat too much, drink too much, even smoke too much, (for those who have resisted all the warnings,) laughing a lot makes up for everything. For a short time we are the young people we were, living in the moment.

So, we are getting older and worrying about what the future holds. We want to be independent of the kids. We hope we gave them a running start on life. We hope the genes we passed on will allow a full and healthy life for them and their children. We hope we kept our neuroses in check sufficiently that we did not pass on any bad stuff, so that they can interact in a healthy way with their partners and their children, and conduct themselves in such a way that they can hold down a job or run a business in a sufficiently rational way. After that, we aspire to so conduct our affairs so that we don’t end up as a burden either to our children or to society. Wouldn’t it be great if we could shuffle off before the money runs out?

We are not Pollyanna. We know what the world out there is like. We see the threats, as do our children. We would have hoped to leave for them a world which was much more secure, that we could hand over to them the levers of power in a place where their futures were assured. That is not to be. The heritage we offer our children is one of struggle, the struggle to maintain for themselves the good things in life that we thought we could take for granted and now know will only be theirs if they are strong, steadfast and courageous in the face of the threats we leave for them to face and resolve.

God bless us, everyone.

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