Just Watching – January 2019

I never thought I’d reach 90 years of age.  Actually I’m not there yet.  I’ve still got to make my way through three months, one week and a couple days.  But I’m getting closer and closer. 

When my 90th B-day finally dawns I will join 450,000 other Super Senior nonagenarians living (as in “alive”) in the USA today.  That’s a lot of people.  There may be a few more by then than now because more and more Americans are not only living longer but living longer longer.  (Read that sentence again, please.)  Both the raw population numbers of those who are over 90, and their percentage of the USA’s population pool, is growing by the day.  Unless something awesome happens when I announce, “Today is my 90th birthday!” that stunning statement (for me, at least) will be met with a yawn and a bored, “Is that so” by most others. 

For a long time I’ve been flagging the changes that have been taking place and that are still happening within the population segment we have traditionally capsuled as “Seniors”.  It’s not the same group today as it was in the past.  It has been ballooning until it has become a huge chunk of folks, threatening to overwhelm in size (and demands) all other population segments.  Most haven’t noticed that.  For most the term Senior means, “…someone over 60…” who may not have a job anymore. 

But there’s a new and very different breed of cat alive and active on today’s traditional Senior scene.   She/he not only needs to be acknowledged as a separate reality but one that needs a defining name as well.  I’ve been pushing, “Super Senior” and with it mean to identify and set aside those who are over 85 years of age.  The adjectival addition of “Super” doesn’t mean that this group is of a superior quality but only that it needs recognition as a different and separated segment.   

As 2019 is dawning, my goal is to nail down what is so distinctively unique about Super Seniors.  I am in a good position to do so because Audie and I are, in fact, Super Seniors already.  We are also in and among a number of richly diverse Super Senior groups.  One is made up of a couple hundred or more fellow travelers from Trinity Lutheran Church (a Roselle, Illinois parish I have served within since 1978).  I still facilitate largely four Senior groups within that church each week listening carefully to what they have to say.  Many are Super Seniors.  In addition by phone, Facebook and e-mail we regularly network and commiserate with a few hundred more coast-to-coast Senior and Super Senior relatives and friends (though that circle gets smaller day by day) as they make their way into an ever changing personal and political tomorrow. 

But the Super Senior broth of Audie and me is thicker than ever before now that we live, move and have our new being at Windsor Manor in Carol Stream, Illinois surrounded by hundreds of other Super Seniors most of whom are of a solid Evangelical bent.  They come at many things differently.  We watch, listen and learn.  In addition I read all I can of what diverse creative folk produce who are interested in and write about the ever expanding and sweeping world of Super Seniors.  

And, of course I feed on what my literary companions of R and C Resources prepare and publish each month and the reactions we all get from our readers!  All those varied stimuli broaden my view of the Super Senior universe and trigger my Super Senior synapses.  I believe I am watching enough Super Senior variants that what I report about them (including what I note concerning you and me) is meaningful.

 want to start my January 2019 report by establishing a foundational principle of Super Senior-dom and the life that I believe is best lived within it.  That principle, stated as simply as I am able, is that Super Senior-dom is a Bonus Land in which my life can be the free-est, fullest and least inhibited I have ever experienced – if I want it to be. 

I picked up the term Bonus Land from an e-mail someone sent me.  I regret I don’t remember who sent it to me or the source he cited.  Mea culpa.  But as I’ve worked with it the term seems to fit the post-80 life I’ve been living as a person, a husband, a father, grandfather and friend.  I’m careful about hurting others by what I say.  I don’t offer instant opinions on every subject.  I’m generous about how I both evaluate and comment upon local, regional and national political (and ecclesiastical) figures.  The world in which I live reminds me of the “Oklahoma” song, “…Don’t Fence Me In”.  I need and have the room to explore and be all that God would have me experience – and so do all Super Seniors.  We’re a rising tide (for sure) that gives life to the saying, “A rising tide floats all boats.”

To that end may God empower us to be a positive and effective force throughout all the days which Psalm 139:16 says He has already set aside for us.   Can’t be a whole lot more, but….

As 2019 opens may you be as blessed in your tomorrows as He has blessed Audie and me in our yesterdays.      

Charlie