Editor:

Here's a big question: When does old age begin? I have the answer. And, I got it by surprise. Recently, I saw my physician for a routine examination and health review. During the visit she declared for the record, that I made it to old age. On May 4, 2012, I unceremoniously turned 65 without notion of such a venerable accomplishment. According to the good doctor, 65 human years on earth is a medical milestone.

Until the elderly moniker was consigned to me, things were going along fine. Since my last visit, I've worked steadily to make the doctor's target numbers for good health, generated by a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a focused attitude.

The doctor was proud of me and said, "Mr. Hughes, you made my day." I felt like a school kid who just got straight A's on his report card. The process and results have been satisfying. I feel good and I have a renewed energy. I'm just a man who still pursues his passions and loves family life. It's a reinvented lifestyle which I hope to enjoy for a long time to come.


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At the height of this dreamy euphoria though, the physician brought it crashing down. She said I had to get a couple of vaccinations, a flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine. I knew about the flu shot and planned to get one, as I do every year. But a required pneumonia vaccination? I was stunned. "Why do I need a pneumonia shot?!" I said. Then she broadcasted my old age entitlement like a TV program interruption. With a homeopathic face and calming voice the esteemed doctor answered, "BECAUSE YOU ARE OLD."

Well there you have it. Doctor Elena said it first. At 65, I am officially old, a codger. Middle Age is in my rearview mirror. Wave good bye to tanning salons, sweet tea, hair and charmed flirtations. Say hello to Retirement Living Television, Buick ownership, and neglected libido. When I spoke with the doctor some time later, she asked if I Googled old age information on the Internet. "No," I said. She grinned and said, "Oh, you should look it up. I found all the old-age stuff on Wikipedia." She turned and walked away. The doctor was right, it's there. I'm old!

Joseph R. Hughes

Abingdon