Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm Getting Old

One of the things that I enjoy about Facebook is the ability to remember friends' birthdays as they are announced each day on the Home Page. Birthdays are still a cause for celebration; I look forward to mine as my "Once A Year Day" (cue in The Pajama Game). I also look forward to extending greetings, at least, with a virtual acknowledgment on the celebrant's Facebook Wall. In my experience, people like to be remembered. If they have taken the time to include their birthdays in their personal information utilized and distributed by Facebook, the odds are they share my enthusiasm for the annual festivities.

It is shortly after midnight on February 27th. I just noticed that four Facebook friends are celebrating their birthdays today. Robert Danielson, Stephen Berman, Nicholas Schaser and Terese Farr. While not unusual to have four Facebook friends sharing a birthday, a thought struck me as I reviewed these names, giving me pause, and generating some Prairie Pondering.

First of all, Happy Birthday, Bob, Steve, Nick and Terese! I hope you have a wonderful day and that you think of tonight's Oscar Awards as your very own birthday party thrown in your honor by Hollywood's elite. Don't worry about not being in attendance. Traffic is murder in Los Angeles. You're better off enjoying your party from the comfort of your home.

Moving on, I realized when I saw the names that each celebrant represents a different phase of my own life and, as I approach 59, there aren't a lot of phases left. I'm not being maudlin; I find it ironic that the every day routine of checking on the day's birthdays resulted in a mortality reality check.

Bob Danielson and I went to college together. We lived well. We were both street smart at a young age and enjoyed the anticipation of an endlessly unfolding future.

Steve Berman is one of my closest friends from law school and, later, Washington, D.C. He's been married the entire time I've known him. Holidays during law school were always celebrated at the Berman household because his spouse, Judy, was an early example of a full-time employee who somehow managed to also be a homemaker. We were still young, striving to reap the rewards, material and otherwise, that we were sure would follow once we successfully entered the legal profession.

Nick Schaser represents the era of my early parenting. His mother and my wife became best of friends attending parenting classes at the community center shortly after the arrivals of our respective first born sons. Nick and Phillip were best friends as toddlers. It was a time of life when I became acquainted with the concept of having a social circle that revolved around relationships in existence because of my children.

Terese Farr is the mother of a client. I met her only a couple of years ago when she accompanied her daughter to our initial meeting. Terese was there to take measure of me on behalf of her daughter, who was hiring an attorney for the first time. I knew I was connecting with the daughter. However, I wasn't sure I'd be representing her because I couldn't read Terese's reaction to how I was handling the meeting, particularly the parts about not speaking openly in front of her so as not to waive attorney-client privilege. Ultimately, I was retained and obtained a good result for the client.

Forty years have transpired since Bob Danielson and I first celebrated birthdays together. That's a lot of birthdays. It's as many as my mother celebrated during her entire visit to the planet. I can't imagine that I'll have another 40.

I'm no longer the youngster eager to meet the unknown. I've long ago given up fawning over the majesty of the law and all it offers. These days, I'm more likely to pine for a baseball bat to resolve conflict; the fighting that passes for legal wrangling is tiresome. Phillip is no longer a toddler. He'll be 28 in a couple of months. He and Nick have taken my place on the temporal merry-go-round, entitled to enjoy the ride on horses of their own choosing. My days as an attorney are waning. I can't imagine ever retiring but nor can I imagine maintaining the same pace of practice for another 10 years. In the scheme of things, 10 years is the blink of an eye. W was a month into his presidency 10 years ago.

The self-absorbed bottom line: Read the title of today's blog. I'm getting old. 60 may be the new 40, but that's just a reflection on how old we used to consider it to hit 40 (or 30 for that matter).

I'll still enjoy celebrating my birthday and the birthdays of my friends. But I expect that more and more experiences, like the simple reading of birthday announcements, will reflect the length and breadth of my worldly experience and, to be honest, a bittersweet tinge at the realization that the proverbial fat lady is gargling in anticipation.

The REAL bottom line: enjoy it while you can and don't forget to extend birthday wishes to those whose presence who have contributed to the memories that sustain you.

Dedicated to Richard Diamond, Mensch
(Nov 21, 1947 - Feb 14, 2011)

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