On turning 77 years old

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer


When does one become an old person?

For me it was today, December 26, when I realized I am now 77 years old. By anyone’s standards that’s old. I was born in 1946 and supposedly may be the oldest of the Baby Boomers. My wife is a couple of years younger and recently we were talking about all the things, places and people we’ve encountered over the years.

We both have or have had friends that go back to our early school years. As a young married couple, we moved around the county living in at least five different states and briefly made friends here and there. I’ve worked on various newspapers and for media over the many years and, for the most part, enjoyed my various positions and the places we lived and the people we met.

I fondly remember when my wife and I operated our newspaper and how our pre-teen boys helped with circulation. It was a family business with all of us taking part.

From my years in the U.S. Coast Guard, daily and weekly newspapers, for a publishing company and cable television advertising we’ve weathered hard times and good times.

But I woke recently realizing that I’m an old man with grown sons and grown grandchildren. I still have my hair but it’s white and thin. My bones hurt and a year with Covid and then shingles has slowed me down a bit.

I’ve wondered how many more years my wife and I have together and what would happen if one or both of us passed away, how the other would survive.

We just can’t do some things, like travel and camp, we so love to do. Neither of us has much energy beyond brief physical exertion, we both have “elderly” aches and pains. That and family stress weigh on us now and then.

But she and I continue on, facing our old age with some caution, hoping for the best and for a few more years of living productive and worthwhile lives. Our minds are pretty sharp at times but our memories are valuable.

I’m thankful for The Focus and the staff and publisher for their faith and trust in an old man who still loves to write and report factual news in the old journalistic style. I’m thankful for old friends who stay in touch from around the nation and for new folks I’ve come to know in my 26 years in Knoxville.

Who knows what this next year holds for any of us but let’s put on a good attitude and face the future with an open heart. It may be true that with age comes some wisdom, tempered by some understanding and compassion for others.

It’s not easy getting older but, as they say, it’s better than the alternative.