One of the most poignant songs ever written, "Sunrise, Sunset", comes from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. The lines which always stood out are these (copied here without permission of anyone in particular):
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
I don't remember growing older
When did they?
It seems like old age should kinda creep up on you. You look back at some (future) point and wonder when it was you got old. This, apparently, is not how it works. Old age comes suddenly, abruptly and aggressively, in the afternoon mail.
It's not like there are no warnings, AARP has been sending their junk mail the 15th of every month for almost ten years. And, yes there have been an increasing number of insurance companies who suddenly see you as a great risk. But, like most warning signs of impending doom, they can be readily ignored.
Then, what you thought was just another harmless piece of junk mail turns out to be Old Age making a frontal attack roughly equivalent to a shock and awe battle cry: "Welcome to Medicare."
Only OLD people are on Medicare!
Back when the first Medicare supplemental programs were coming into being (HMO's, etc.) my mother asked me to go with her to a seminar being conducted to inform retirees about their options. My mother was, indeed, old; so I went along to help her figure out what to do. In retrospect I realize it was being put on by a group with something to sell. But, I was young and she was old. We signed her up for something neither of us really understood. Far as I know it was a decent decision and worked out well. What I do know is that she lived another thirty years. She probably got more out of her old age than the supplemental insurance company did.
Now I've got to figure it out for myself, and it is a LOT more complicated than all this was thirty years ago when I was young (as I now vaguely remember young). Medicare sends out a booklet to explain it all. Being the United States government what it mostly does is to explain there will be yet another booklet coming which will explain the first booklet's explanation. Did I even get that much figured out? Which of our unsuspecting children can I volunteer to go with me to the next "informational seminar"?
I won't actually be 65 for another 125 days, and will probably get a lot more junk mail before then. Hope I can figure out which one of these is the explanation of the explanation. I am quite old.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.