Tigger and Eyeore on Turning 60

by Terry Hogan


My wife is about to turn 60.  She's much older than me (6 months).  But that is not the only difference.  We do share a common vision that turning 60 is one of those significant psychological doorways.  It is a major event.  But that is where our perceptions abruptly differ. We're a little like an old stereoscope photo card that has been cut in half and glued back together with different scenes.


My wife is actually looking forward to turning 60.  She sees it as some sort of positive milestone. The extended family (children and grandchildren) will be gathering at a motel with an indoor swimming pool and other grandchildren-friendly amusements to celebrate this mile marker in her life.


It's amazing we're still married. We're the glass couple.  For her, it is half full.  For me, well you know.  We're approaching another milestone in life before too long - 40 years of marriage.  How can you last for 40 years when you can't agree about a glass of water?  Ponder that for awhile.


For me, it takes some real effort to find something worth celebrating the 60th.  I suppose you can say that you survived that long.  But looking back over the nearly 60 years, there are certainly some periods of time that I wouldn't care to repeat.  I believe we probably all have those spots in our personal histories.  As some old sage said (maybe it was me?), "life ain't much, but it beats the alternative."  


At 60, you're well past your prime. The hill that you went over isn't even visible in the rear view mirror.  You're beginning to be a life's challenge and a major source of income to your (young) family doctor.  Your insurance company is looking for a way to cancel your medical policy.  In your heart, you feel you'd like to have an older doctor who understands what it is like to be getting all these quirky health issues - some big, some just annoying. But then you realize, if he was your age, he'd probably not remember who you are from one visit to another.


Who knows.  Perhaps this short-term memory failure is nature's way of helping you forget about what you thought you could accomplish yesterday, but didn't because you got too tired and too sore. 


That's another interesting thing about being old.  When you were young, if you overworked, you got a "good tired" that day and woke up a little stiff and sore the next day.  When you're old, you get stiff and sore while you're working.  There is no overnight grace period.   


I read somewhere (can't remember where now), that humor is tragedy viewed from a distance. Perhaps that is true.  But it helps if it is your distance, and their tragedy.  Did you ever watch the Ally McBeal  show on TV?  She was complaining about her problems.  Her friend asked her why she (Ally) always thought her problems were so much more important that anyone else's.  Ally answered, "Because they're mine."  It is that personal perception framework that apparently makes all the difference.


While my wife looks forward to her 60th birthday, I see mine as primarily the better of two alternatives. It's probably better than not making it to my 60th birthday.  Notwithstanding this fundamental difference in perception, I prefer hers, while still embracing mine. Going to another analogy, Louise is more like an aging "Tigger" from "Winnie the Pooh".  She still bounces about, but maybe not quite as high or quite as often.  I am "Eyeore".  But that's OK, "I'll get by, don't worry about me." 


I hope she has a bouncy 60th, surrounded by our bouncy grandchildren.