Sunday, May 16, 2010

Contemplating 65

For my birthday, I asked some friends to give me their thoughts on turning 65. Here are the responses I got. I hope you will consider adding your own thoughts.

I don’t think my imagination is that good.

Dave Spier – 17

Three Haikus Inspired by John on his 65th Birthday

Aging man, gorgeous

Stories told of life well lived

Long in wisdom’s youth

At sixty five years

Plátano knows how to make

Tomate horny

Wide world spinning fast

Easy to see the goodness

Now that I am old

Mary Vieira - 30

I don’t feel close to 65. But nonetheless at 36, I’ve stared down a couple of numbers. I'm not sure if it's been like your facing 65, but I've looked a few birthdays in the eye for a few more seconds than I was comfortable with, sorts of awkward pauses of self-perception. Maybe I’m risking revealing myself as merely an ignorant whippersnapper, but part of me believes (with full conviction) that 65 IS just a number. If you feel you have to stare it down, then you can certainly make it much more than that. The extra hesitation and consideration infuses the number with a mythical quality, but why should it be that much different than 64 or 66? The number itself is just a classic beginning to Social Security benefits or a wide road from Mobile Alabama to Gary, Indiana. The other part of me thinks that, like you John, 65 will feel like a lot more than a mere number. I’m pretty certain that 37 will be a little eerier than 36, and I’m hoping that 65 feels like a hurricane or some sort of pre-dusk glow. Something powerful or beautiful... more alive than ever before, despite some biological evidence to the contrary...

Jeff Taber – 36


Thoughts about age are relative.

This week I asked my students what they thought about 65 years olds. (a number of them asked if I was turning 65…)

Here are some of their answers:

  • Spending your savings
  • Retirement
  • Wise
  • Old folks home
  • Golf
  • Pension
  • “Been there” – experienced a lot
  • Floral furniture
  • Cruises
  • Over the hill
  • Sports car
  • That smell
  • Florida
  • Grandchildren
  • Old people
  • Intelligent
  • Time to find a new song (when your 64 doesn’t work anymore)
  • Decaying
  • books
  • wrinkles
  • mid life crisis
  • sitting on the porch
  • AARP insurance
  • Vacations
  • Cats
  • Lamborghini
  • Gardens
  • Mothballs
  • Walking sticks
  • Bingo
  • knitting
  • rocking chairs
  • game shows
  • $5 Tuesdays at movies

Love and a big hug,

Andrea Place - 45

(Andrea teaches high school.)

Dear John,

As a kid, I thought all my worries would be over once I finished school. I would find a job I loved and love it for the rest of my life. I also thought that by the age of 30 I would have a husband and kids. Clearly none of this is true. In fact, my life has been far more exciting than that. So now when I think of turning 65 I think of the multitude of possibilities and hope to make the best of all the opportunities – and it is wonderful to watch you and Deb do just that.

Happy Birthday, John

Love, Remke

Remke Remmelts - 47

At 47 I can’t exactly reflect on turning 65. But I can reflect on growing older, growing up.

When I turned 30 I was happy. I felt like I had finally become a “real adult”.

When I turned 40 I needed to throw myself a big birthday party complete with presents just to get through it. I thought that by 35 my life was supposed to be “all set”. I even gave myself a 5-year “grace period” and by 40 my life was still a work in progress.

At some point between 40 and 47 I wizened up. When I was younger I felt like I had to prove my myself, become something, “arrive”. Now I realize the reality is that I “arrived” the day I was born. Life is really about using what you’ve got to experience and learn stuff, good and bad.

So I actually look forward to the prospect of some day turning 65. I know the aches and stiffness I already feel will intensify, but somehow it will be worth it because I will be even more comfortable in my own skin, I will have experienced some pretty cool stuff and hopefully I won’t give a damn about what others think of me!

Cheryl Wojciechowski -47

Dear John,

Greetings and felicitations on your 65th birthday.

Here’s why I think you excel at living life:

· You dream big

· You fart loudly

· You bring joy to those around you

· You choose wisely (Deb)

· You share with others

· And finally, you make interesting art!

Fred Chubay - 55

Notes on being 65, chocolate, and the art of the ancient spatula

No Gump, youth is like that proverbial box of chocolates; many sweet surprises, but a fairly limited menu. By 65, if you really pay attention, you’ll learn the art of the ancient spatula. (Not some plastic thing, but real wood and shiny steel!) Rue, stew, perhaps a rice ceviche – simply sautéed or stirred (not shaken).

Result: rich texture with a subtle complexity that’s got taste.

Although at some point you become master of your ancient spatula domain, you can still flip burgers, flip pancakes or just flip out! Sadly, you will disappear someday… but… RICE KOTULA WILL LIVE FOREVER!

Bob Cohen – 63

“65 – 2”

Here I am approaching the crest of the hill… and 65 is just over that crest.

Here I am… still able to check off the 60 – 64 box on the survey form… and not the endless 65 and over box.

Here I am… all systems still functioning but listening carefully to any precursors of disorder… and there is 65, an age lost in the din of precursors.

See you on the other side.

Bob Rafeal - 64

Ode for a Fellow 65

A time of freedom

A time for reflection

Understanding who you are

Imagining how you want to live that out

Faced with mortality

Living out life immortally

Tom Comisky – 66

Happy Sixty-Five

John Kotula, few men coolah,

A guy with many talents.

He paints, he draws, he writes, he blogs.

How does he keep his balance?

A teacher, father, husband, artist,

Traveler, there’s no end

To Johnny’s presence in the world.

His greatest talent? Friend.

John’s one of the rarest dudes

Who, once he gets to know you,

Gets together, keeps in touch.

Loyalty? He’ll show you!

John is known around RI

Switzerland, Nicaragua,

Honduras, Coventry and beyond.

Tierra, cielo, agua.

Now John not only gets around,

He brings the world home.

There’s always someone living here

From Munich, Mumbai, Rome.

As he moves around his world

He seems to be at ease.

Some of that’s within the genes,

And some from his main squeeze.

Debbie Drew, as John will say,

Is terminally cheerful.

She’s got a way of being up

When other are most tearful.

Together they have built a life

Both down-to-Earth, ideal.

The greatest compliment to them,

They’re very, very real.

John comes by it naturally.

Did you know his mom, Maizie?

Boyhood at the carnival

And moving around like crazy.

Detroit, Miami and Jamaica,

Queens, not Caribbean.

Oddball relatives and friends

Shaped Johnny’s way of seein’.

“Life’s a party, come on in!”

This attitude unlocks

The secret way to inner youth,

To life outside the box.

So, John, although the number’s true.

Yes, you are sixty-five.

Sometimes you seem like twenty-two,

You always seem alive!

In your heart you’re every age,

Sometimes mature, then not.

Other seniors cool down, retreat.

You keep your irons hot.

Happy Birthday, Johnny K.!

Your life’s a work of art.

Forever young in spirit, you.

And never an old fart.

Happy Birthday, Johnny Boy!

Thanks for being our (dad, husband, grandpa) friend.

You’re one of life’s great gifts to us.

We love you without end.

Bill Eyman – 69

My thoughts on becoming 65

-You aint seen nothin’ yet.

-I can’t remember that fr back

Or I think of Robert browning

“Come grow old with me,

The best is yet to be,

The last of life for which the first was made…”


65 is better than 66 and a lot better than 70.

So live life to the fullest now and fuck tomorrow.

Jim VanWest – 70

The Portrait - This self-portrait is my first attempt at stop motion animation. It was great fun to do and I am excited by the possibilities of putting some of my drawings - and the process of drawing - into motion. I predict there will be more to come.

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