The Ottumwa Courier

June 19, 2013

Come Alive @ 65!

Ottumwa Courier

---- — I’m officially declaring my 65th birthday to be July 1st this year because that’s the date Medicare kicks in. Hallelujah! No more $580 a month kick-in-the-pants payments for $5,000 deductible health insurance. If that ain’t a birthday present, I don’t know what is. Actually, my birthday is July 28th, but I’m going to celebrate it on the first with my free Medicare physical. There are advantages to aging.

I know, for my 80-year-old readers out there, I’m still wet behind the ears, a pup, but turning 65 is a milestone. Sixty-five used to be the average age of death back in the fifties. That’s how the government came up with the age of 65 for Medicare. Now people are living longer, and I intend to do so, too. I exercise daily (half-an-hour on the elliptical machine) and watch my diet — that is, I watch food disappear into my mouth.

Except for a mild case of asthma, I enjoy fairly good health. Medicare classifies asthma as a “chronic condition” and awards me a special consideration. Amazing. And under Part D of medicare, the inhaler I was paying $225 for will now be $45. Another birthday present.

In addition to the free physical, under preventive care there are free colonoscopies, free flu and pneumonia shots, cardiovascular screening, prostate cancer screening, mammograms, bone-mass measurement, etc. It just keeps pouring in. Good health care is critical for the aging population.

What do I intend to do? I don’t like the term “bucket list.” Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson popularized the term in a movie, and now it’s way overused. I don’t have any major travel plans (travel wears me out), nor do I have any major accomplishment that I want to achieve. What I do plan on doing is spending more time with my art — the sculpture building (out of rusty farm junk), photography and writing. My son is coming into the insurance business, so I will have more free time. I still plan on working some but cut way back on hours — maybe work half-time or quarter-time until I’m 75 or so. It’s easy work, and I enjoy seeing the people.

I haven’t started drawing Social Security yet. I’m waiting until I’m 66, when I can draw the full amount without having an income limit. That seems backward to me, but that’s the way the government works it. At age 62, if you draw Social Security, they penalize you if you make too much money.

If you would have told me at the age of 20, that I would someday be 65, I don’t think I would have believed you. At times I’ve had a wild and colorful life (some would call it “checkered”), at other times, it’s been dull and boring. I have two great kids and soon-to-be four grandkids. I have a wonderful home and a woman I love. I’m very fortunate.

I like to do things I’ve never done before — once. I’ve skydived, shot a 12-point buck and a wild turkey. I’ve scuba dived in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, ridden RAGBRAI and rode a zip line through a rain forest. I haven’t been wild boar hunting yet. That’s something I’d like to do. At the end of June, I’m driving a tractor in the WHO Great Tractor Ride. That’ll be fun.

I haven’t been on a mission trip to Africa. That would be getting too far out of myself. But I have written a free weekly column for going on 15 years. My writing and art is my contribution, my legacy, my way of giving back to the community — something I can do for many years.

Come alive @ 65.