During my first week on the job at age 21, I received a document listing my starting date and my supposed retirement date — in 2013.
I could understand the number 21, but 2013? Was that even real?
In 1970, fresh out of college in Ohio and thrilled to have landed a reporting job at the Omaha World-Herald, I couldn't even imagine that science-fiction year. God, please just help me get through my first year. I'll worry about other years if and when they arrive.
So I can't say that I was especially concerned about the so-called “2013.” And yet I've always remembered being startled by that document. In my mind, 2013 has always served as my “out there” year, as in waaaayyy out there.
But as midnight arrived Jan. 1, I watched on TV with millions of others as the ball dropped in Times Square. And there it was in lights — 20-dang-13.
Some people can't wait to retire. Some, like me, dread the notion. So, as of now, I'm not planning to bail at the end of October when I turn 65.
We insufferable baby boomers, of whom the leading edge just turned 67, like to be trendy. Indeed, we are part of a trend of more people working beyond 65.
The U.S. Census Bureau said in January that, compared with 1990, the percentage of workers older than 65 has increased by a third, from 12 percent to 16 percent. The reasons range from financial to personal. Some keep working because they feel they need to, and others work because they want to.
People are living longer, so on average we can look forward to more post-65 years, working or not. The question is how we want to live them.
Because I turned 64 four months ago, people ask if I'm thinking about retirement. I think about retirement mainly because folks ask about it, not because I'm thinking about it.
Others of my vintage get the same question. The answer is personal and specific to each of us.
You surely don't want to hang around at your workplace beyond your usefulness.
Tom Osborne, in announcing his retirement as University of Nebraska athletic director at 75, said: “At some point, whether you're able to function or not, the perception is that getting old can get in the way. So I don't want to be one of those guys where everybody is walking around wringing their hands and wondering what they're going to do with him.”
In my case, I trust that readers and colleagues will drop enough hints that I'll realize when I'm losing it.
For now, heck, I appreciate being able to line up words for a living and turn sentences into stories. What would I do in retirement that I enjoy more?
My late father worked until he was 70. My three older brothers worked beyond 65. So have my physician, my dentist and my accountant.
An Omaha gent by the name of Warren Buffett is going strong at 82. Ron Hunter, an Omaha attorney, told me the other day he is close to retiring — at 83.
“I've thoroughly enjoyed the practice of law,” he said. “The interactions with clients, the negotiations and the arguing — it's in my blood. I practice law four days a week and write books three days a week.”
So it's finally time for the rocking chair?
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|Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha in their new blog, From the Notebook.|
“Heavens, no,” he said. “I want to write books seven days a week.”
Among the many talented reporters and writers at our place are two who recently were named metro columnists. The announcement said that Matthew Hansen, 32, and Erin Grace, 39, would join old-dude Mike Kelly, 64.
OK, it may not have said “old dude,” but I read the article and thought, wait, didn't my career start just the other day?
I asked the smart young reporter in the cubicle next to me how old she was. She replied, “Twenty-four.”
I have column ideas older than she is.
Trying to keep up with younger colleagues is a good incentive. In some ways, that applies not just in the workplace but also in life.
Staying active is the key. And if we're healthy, age is relative. Forty, it is said, is the new 30, and 50 is the new 40.
Yes, and 64 is the new ... what, 63?
Paul McCartney, now 70, wrote a song in his youth about getting older. The most memorable line: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?”
No doubt about it, everyone wants to feel needed. But we don't necessarily need to fear the years ahead.
Julie Masters, head of the gerontology department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, told me recently: “We are afraid to grow old, and yet it can be the best part of our lives.”
Exercise, she said, is the magic potion for aging well. We must exercise our bodies and exercise our minds.
Soon after I arrived to work nearly 43 years ago, my colleague Steve Jordon, who was 23 and our police reporter, introduced me to officers at the old police station at 11th and Dodge Streets. In our newsroom, I was at the bottom of the totem pole.
Steve, now 66, is No. 1 in longevity in our newsroom and not slowing down. I'm right behind him at No. 2.
We all start sounding like our parents did when we ask where the years went. But then we look around. In my case, they went into marriage, four grown kids, eight grandchildren and a life like that of a lot of people — ups, downs and all around.
So unless I keel over on the job, retirement is out there — somewhere.
Age is merely a number, just like my once unimaginably futuristic 2013.
Now it's time to enjoy it and make the best of this year — because it turns out that it is here and it is real.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1132, email@example.com