Which older person was I?

This past Saturday night I was invited to, and attended, a surprise 70th birthday party for the father of a friend. The event space was their backyard, all decked out in fancy little white lights and outdoor seating, an open bar, and a live acoustic guitar singer who sang songs from Marley to Simon and Garfunkel to Tom Petty with equal ease, and equal talent.

There was even a bearded, young-ish bartender named “Kai”. He was popular among the women party goers for his name, but mainly for both his beard and the booze.

As the guests started trickling in, maybe 45 or 50 to be inexact, I began my social duties of meeting and mingling. I knew no one there, other than the two people that invited me to the party. And, as you can imagine, the average age of the party attendee was decades above my own age.

I met brothers. I met sisters. I met fathers, mothers, cousins, and grandchildren. I met grandfathers. I even met great grandfathers and great grandmothers. Everyone had their own unique story — Their own select life journey.

I could not help but notice the middle aged couple who sat next to each other and didn’t even say a word, or even glance in each other’s direction during the evening. Their love appeared to be on hiatus, or possibly departed.

Then I noticed couple well into their 70’s, snapping their fingers and dancing together to the live music, much as I imagined they did for the very first time, decades and decades before. Their love appeared to be more alive than ever before.

The ladies relayed gossip stories. The men told their most fantastic fishing stories.

I witnessed the camaraderie of the family members, celebrating the life of one of their dearest own. It was the birthday boy’s day, but they were all an integral part of his life and his journey to 70 years.

I watched and listened as these “old people” relayed stories to me of triumph and success, as well as ruin and regret. The places they visited. The homes they built. The storms they weathered. The risks they didn’t take. I was taking mental notes. Which one of these older people am I destined to be?

Living “in the now” and taking life day by day is crucial and equally important, but …

Maybe we’re all actively planning our own 70th or 80th birthday parties already, and we don’t even realize it most days? What do I want that party to look and feel like? I’d like to think that I can do a better job planning perhaps so that maybe someday, as Billy Graham once noted, “Growing old is the greatest surprise of my life.” That’s a comforting thought.

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