is Only A Number
There’s a beautifully designed gold and burnt umber box near a mirror in my house. Inside is a luxurious fragrant round bar of soap, a gift from a neighbor. On top of the box is a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”
It is an appropriate quote to read upon rising, just before I take my first look in the morning in the mirror. The quote comforts me as I try to wash away the sleep and awake to a new day that keeps me marching toward that final day on the calendar that none of us know when it will be.
I seem to be focusing on age a little too much lately as I keep watching the five grandchildren growing so quickly and now waiting for the sixth one to be born sometime in late summer. Thoughts of age are creeping up in the newspapers lately where we read daily dispatches from the political campaigns of John McCain, age 71, Hillary Clinton, 60, and Barack Obama, 46.
If elected president McCain would be the oldest president to assume the presidency. Some think it was Ronald Reagan, but he was 70 when he took office in 1981. He was re-elected at age 73. John Kennedy, at age 43, was the youngest elected president. In 1996, Bob Dole at 73 ran again Bill Clinton and lost.
When I get up in the morning and look sleepily in the mirror and I think of my friends’ husbands (and yes, my ex-husband) lounging around enjoying retirement, I can’t image why someone in their 70s, a survivor of a malignant melanoma, with a home in Sedona, Arizona would want to get up each morning with the problems of the world on his shoulders. Doesn’t he have a calendar with the pages flipping quickly by?
And what about that question that Hillary Clinton asks in her latest ad this week. “Whom would you want to answer the telephone if it rings at 3 a.m. in the White House?”
McCain, who has a mother, 94 (and she has a living twin sister) likes to say he is “older than dirt and has more scars than Frankenstein.” Yet, his grandfather died at 61 and his father at 70.
The New York Times reported last August, a woman asked McCain, “from one white head to another” why he wanted to be president in such troubled times.
“I’m sorry I called on you,” McCain quipped.
In a New York Times/CBS News poll a year ago, less than one percent said that the 70s were the best age for a president, while 52 percent said the 50s were the best age.
The ever-so eloquent Obama often refers to McCain’s “half-century” of service,” a subtle reference to the age factor.
Maybe McCain is familiar with the Lincoln quote and indeed takes it to heart. He is certainly acting with a lot of “life” in his years. And, of course, the more life in your years, it seems, the more years will be in your life, according to the health reports that tell us to be active each day, not only physically, but mentally.
I have a female friends, whom I’ve talked about before, who is enjoying long lives because of the life in her years. Winnie will be 85 in April. She gets up a little after 6 each morning and swims at the Y in Westport.
Age is an interesting factor as we watch the candidates battle for their party’s presidential bid. Also, I would guess in no other presidential campaign has the vice presidential candidate been such a significant factor when considering the possibility of a female candidate, a black candidate and the oldest candidate in putting together a balanced ticket for the public to consider.
Incidentally, about that age factor with McCain. Comedian Bill Maher surmises that McCain may have planted that New York Times article about the presidential candidate’s close relationship with the female lobbyist. Maher says he may have done that to combat the critics who say he’s too old to be president. Says, Maher, “Viva, Viagra.”
© Copyright 2007 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.