Bent Tree, Georgia

You probably don’t know this, but today is National 87-Year-Old Day. The reason you don’t know about this particular holiday is because I just invented it a few seconds ago.

I created this holiday especially for a woman named Miss Jodi, from Bent Tree, Georgia, who is, in case you haven’t guessed, 87 years old.

Miss Jodi’s children told me she has been under the weather lately. So this is why I wanted her to have a holiday of her own.

Oh, sure, I could have simply said “I’m praying for you to get well, Miss Jodi.” But this phrase is so often misused that sometimes I’m afraid the words have lost their meaning in our culture.

When I was a kid, people used to say they were “praying for you” all the time. But you always knew they probably weren’t.

Good folks would rush up to you after church, shake your hand and hurriedly say, “I’ll be praying for you!”

But somehow you knew, deep inside, they were just hurrying through the motions so they could beat the Methodists to the Mexican restaurant.

But getting back to my new holiday. As I say, this is a big deal. National 87-Year-Old Day is going to be huge all over the U.S. They’re going to close down schools and businesses, throw monstrous parades, and have two-for-one pitchers at the local Freewill Baptist churches.

And it’s all for you, Miss Jodi.

Admittedly, I’ve never been to Bent Tree, Georgia, but our childhood preacher was from Jasper. He had the personality of coleslaw. He preached two great sermons in his career. The day he joined us, and the day he left.

Even so, I imagine the mayor of Bent Tree will be calling Miss Jodi soon to offer her a key to the city. And if he doesn’t, I think we should all call the locksmith and chip in to have one cut.

Because the truth is, I’ve often wondered what it feels like to be in my late 80s. Does it feel good? Does it feel bad? Is it ho-hum? Is it challenging? Is it exhausting?

Do you still feel like a 29-year-old in your head? Or do you actually feel 87? And what does 87 feel like exactly? How differently does this age feel compared to, say, age 23?

These are things we need to discuss on your national holiday, Miss Jodi. Because Americans are clamoring to know what it’s like to be you.

I speak for every middle aged citizen when I say: We could learn a lot from you. We need your wisdom. Now more than ever.

You were born in 1935. Life was different when you came along. Your world was fraught with European wars, global unrest, escalating international turmoil, and Shirley Temple.

There was a Great Depression on. Ameilia Earhardt was still having adventures. George Herman Ruth was smacking his 714th home run. The Hoover Dam was just completed and fast becoming a big dam success.

And that’s when you happened, Miss Jodi. You came barreling into this world the way all babies do. Loudly. Gleefully. Excitedly.

I bet there were lots of glad people nearby when you were born. Because that’s how most baby deliveries go.

We Americans love babies. Have you ever noticed that an American baby is born with enormous fanfare?

Everyone celebrates infancy. Old men smoke cigars and pump each other’s hands. Young women throw elaborate showers and eat tiny crustless sandwiches the size of Chiclets.

We go all out. New parents spend big money on strollers that cost more than aircraft carriers. Relatives purchase expensive onesies which babies will eventually fill with poop.

We do all this because we are crazy for infants. We celebrate first steps. First baby teeth. First Little League games. First dance recitals. First proms. First driver’s licenses. First colonoscopies.

But somewhere along the way, the joyous festivities fizzle out. A baby grows into a teenager. Then a parent. Then a middle-aged working stiff. Then a grandparent. And suddenly, one day, the former baby is a white-haired person, parked beside a vacant window, and we aren’t celebrating them anymore.

No longer do people applaud their beautiful, experienced lives. Nobody celebrates their little triumphs. Sometimes, loved ones even forget to call them.

Well, not today. This is your day, Miss Jodi. Today is the momentous day that some hack columnist whom you’ve never met declared a nationwide observance of all upper-octogenarians.

So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to be the first American to say, “Happy National 87-Year-Old Day.”

Oh, and one more thing, Miss Jodi.

I’m praying for you.


  1. Mary Smith - October 24, 2022 6:51 am

    Why do I receive your emails so late (just received this one at 1:45am)? Do not like getting a notification during the night that you have sent out an email. Just wish it was a bit earlier. Sorry…😴💤😪

    • David - October 24, 2022 2:01 pm

      Dear Mary…Change your notification settings to turn off between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Sweet dreams!

    • Chris Spencer - October 24, 2022 8:42 pm

      You can turn off your notifications so they don’t wake you at night. That is what I’ve done. The notifications still show up on my phone, just silently.
      Have a blessed day.

  2. Sandi. - October 24, 2022 7:52 am

    Happiest Birthday to Miss Jodi, and an equally Happy Birthday to all the other ‘upper-octogenarians’ in the world!

  3. Penn Wells - October 24, 2022 7:59 am

    True wisdom. Again.

  4. Buddy Bob's Best Friend - October 24, 2022 9:43 am

    “Happy National 80+ Day” is what I will call today. My dear mother, Ruth, is 81 years young today!!! Whoot!!! Whoot!!! I asked her when she was in her 50’s how young she felt and she said she still felt like she was 16 years old in her mind. Her body just felt slower, but, the mind was the same as the teenager. Now that I am 60+ myself, I have to agree on her assessment. Although, my body feels better than it did at 16 years old. I exercise now almost daily and eat much healthier. Working on a healthier lifestyle has paid off now that I am in my 60’s as I am a widow who has met a “hot” widower. We have “lots going on-if you know what I mean (wink, wink!!!)” that most of our friends our age do not have. Covid19 has really changed my Mom’s life though. She & her much younger husband, (we will call him Jim), returned from 2 weeks vacation in Florida to The Midwest, then flew to Cancun for 2 weeks vacation. Once they returned from there, they went to their house and really have not left there as “they are afraid of Covid19”. Their doctor says they need to be careful about all of the germs out in public. She then goes through her speech about them being updated on their shots and that their doctor says they need to be careful about all of the germs out in the world. My Mom can’t hardly walk anymore and uses a cane or someone’s arm if out of the house. Sad to see that she has now become a woman of her accurate age. We all are so thankful that she and “Jim” are still with us to share our lives as all five of her children continue to live healthy and active adult lives. Happy National 80+ Year-Old Day!!! I am praying for all of the 80+ year-olds that “your feet hit the floor today” and you have a most wonderful day today. Happy Birthday to my sweet Momma Ruth!!! You are the Best of the Best!!! Thanks Sean!!! Keep up the great writing. 🙂

  5. Patricia O Thrash - October 24, 2022 9:49 am

    This will help me to feel better about my 91 year old mother in law, now living with us, and my 37 year oldest child with whom I am at odds. When you find yourself feeling off with more than one person, the source is you.

    I needed this to help me redirect my thoughts.

    Thank you.

  6. Andy Dodds - October 24, 2022 10:15 am

    How many of your readers know how small a Chiclet is?

  7. Leigh Amiot - October 24, 2022 10:44 am

    Happy, happy birthday, Mrs. Jodi! May the Lord bless you with restored health and renewed hope for the years ahead.

  8. Karri Misky - October 24, 2022 10:51 am

    Happy Birthday, Ms. Jodi! Not everyone gets a Sean Dietrich column and a whole day named after them, so you must be one fine Young Lady! I hope your day is filled with Goodness and Love.

  9. Julia - October 24, 2022 11:09 am

    Miss Jodi, Happy Birthday to You!
    We hope you enjoy every minute 🙂
    I am from Georgia. I am very familiar with Bent Tree & Jasper as well 🙂
    I loved this Sean. Thank you.
    My dear friend Gwen Bernard is celebrating her 90th Birthday today. Happy Birthday Gwen. She is a beauty, to be sure. Inside and out! She is still living her best life. One day at time. Happy Birthday Jodi & Gwen
    With Love from Lafayette, Louisiana

  10. Joy Jacobs - October 24, 2022 11:20 am

    Happy National 87 Day ❤️ I don’t know how it feels to be 87 but at 70 I still feel like a teenager (most days) especially when listening to the oldies station on the radio. ❤️

  11. Wendy - October 24, 2022 12:09 pm

    There’s always some confusion about Bent Tree – see it’s just a community in Jasper no Mayor to speak of. But they do have some beautiful amenities and some great people that live there. You should come visit sometime. I’m intrigued about this pastor from Jasper.

  12. jgarrison75 - October 24, 2022 12:22 pm

    Thank you for all your good news stories… I can’t help think of “Bent Tree” without thinking of this photo I shot shortly after coming back on Skidaway Island (where I lived at the time) after Hurricane Matthew. I hope the link works, it is to an old blog. If not, it shows a large pine snapped about ten feet above the ground. In the foreground is a sign that reads “Bent Tree Circle”

  13. mccutchen52 - October 24, 2022 12:28 pm

    Happy Birthday Ms. Jodi. Being 70 I am slowly catching up to you. Have a great day.

  14. Diana - October 24, 2022 12:28 pm

    Happy 87 year old day to Miss Jodi! And wishes for many more. My mother-in-law lived to be 101 years old and late in life was frustrated that she still felt young and could do anything in her mind, but her frail little body would not allow it. I lost my dear mother at the young age of 52 to breast cancer 35 years ago. She never had a chance to grow old. Be grateful for each and every day and live life to the fullest while you can.

  15. Chris Kitchens - October 24, 2022 12:52 pm

    Thanks for your literary talent. Sitting on the front porch reading your articles with hot cup of coffee is how I start my day

  16. beachdreamer - October 24, 2022 1:10 pm

    I hope this goes thru…sometimes my comments don’t. 🤔. I too am 87…in 6 days. Jodi and I went to high school together. We are still friends. I lived in. Bent Tree for a few years. Love the mountains! We both are so blessed to have lived this long. We’ve seen and experienced a lot over the years. After having Covid in august, I have a new and deeper sense of thankfulness for each day! So grateful and appreciative of all the Lord has given me! Wish Jodi could have been in Ft Payne with her son. We are both big fans! Thank you for this tribute to her and all us 80+ folks. Bless you Sean! God willing, maybe we’ll get to see you.
    Am praying for Jodi’s quick recovery. God bless🙋❤️

  17. Tim - October 24, 2022 1:22 pm

    87 probably feels better than being 86’d.

    Might just be the restaurant guy in me, but then again I don’t know,

    Because it’ll be about two decades before I know what being 87 feels like (& hopefully about that long before I know what being 86’d feels like).

    Better watch what I eat. Don’t know how many holidays I have left in me.

  18. Rebecca Thompson - October 24, 2022 1:37 pm

    Thank you for caring about our elders. So many young people today feel that we should simply be gone. That we are taking from them.

  19. Donna from Iowa - October 24, 2022 1:55 pm

    A great essay to start my week–thanks—I just turned ninety so I can relate

  20. David Elser - October 24, 2022 2:10 pm

    Well, you asked! I’m 86 and in pretty good health (still ride my Honda Shadow). At this age you have too big a house, however, it is taken over on the weekends by grandkids. We are truly blessed. Keep up the good work….:-)

  21. Judy - October 24, 2022 2:22 pm

    Happy Birthday, Miss Jodi. I hope this is your best birthday ever.
    Good job Sean.

  22. Mimi Phillips - October 24, 2022 2:41 pm

    I’m inspired! I will declare this week the international week of celebrating 81 years of life. That’s how many I have accumulated. You asked Mis Jodi what it feels like to be 87. I can’t answer that one, but I can say without hesitation that inside I am no more than 30.

    My body has begun slapping me around lately, and I have more doctor’s appointments in one week than I had in a ten year span of my former life. Some days I’m mad as hell, and I rise up and protest with all the courage of the “hippie” I wish I had been. Then there are the days when I just seem invisible and placed out on the curb for the trash collectors to haul off.

    If I didn’t fear that I’d set off a gag reflex pandemic, I’d tell the world about the wisdom of taking a lover at this stage of life.

    It’s a strange new world that is daunting and unfamiliar. But your notion of a celebration of 87 year olds, has got me thinking about doing some celebrating of my 81 years…is it to early to pop a cork and raise a glass to this vital young woman trapped in an old body?

  23. Jayne Loetkeman - October 24, 2022 2:45 pm

    Sean you really do have talent. I love the way you throw in unexpected things like the first colonoscopy lol. Have you ever thot how cool it would be if life were just the opposite. We started out as an adult and as we grew older and more frail we would get smaller. Eventually we wouldn’t be able to walk or talk anymore but our children would after us and carry us around like babies.

  24. Sue Adams - October 24, 2022 3:05 pm

    And from another 87 year old, thanks for “the day” and for the prayers. I’m kinda tired.

  25. Kathy - October 24, 2022 3:23 pm

    If I say I’m praying for you, by golly, I am. And I do pray regularly for you because you’re a prophet.

  26. Linnea Miles - October 24, 2022 3:38 pm

    My beautiful mother would’ve been 87 on Wed, October 26th. But she died at the age of 24, just before I turned 3. I’ve missed her all my life. I’ve wondered recently what she would be like at 87. Thank you for celebrating the fantastic 87 year Olds. We need their knowledge and wisdom.

  27. Stacey Wallace - October 24, 2022 4:10 pm

    Miss Jodi, Happy Birthday! I hope that you are feeling much better soon, and my husband Mike and I WILL pray for you when I finish typing this. May you live to be as old as Mother Mac, my grandmother, who lived to be 104. Mother Mac once said, “Antiques are very valuable. Old people are antiques, so we are very valuable.” She was 100% correct. Love to you. Thanks, Sean!

  28. Durand Dean - October 24, 2022 4:26 pm

    Happiest of birthdays to you, Miss Jodi. I hope your day is filled with love, laughter, family, friends, and cake! What a special day! ❤️ Love from Georgia!

  29. William Stocks - October 24, 2022 4:32 pm

    I was born in 1936 and I can tell you that there’s no difference in me now than in 1960. Well, in my head anyway there’s none! Pretty girls, fast cars and good food. Now the body, there is some difference. The main thing is that inside of these old bodies are folks just as young as anyone else. I walk and run 5K races, started at age 80 and have done 34 so far. Stay active and enjoy life.

  30. Margaret Byrd - October 24, 2022 4:44 pm

    I was 87 on October 11th and ‘ Ive lived through many of the same things that she has. We all have our own life story but many of us who have seen the changes in our culture struggle with the negative changes that we’ve lived to see. I have 9 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren and I feel a great deal
    Of concern about the world we’re leaving for them. I’m in good health but need a total skeletal replacement. I’d much rather be planning an international trip than going to the orthopedic!! The mind is traveling but the body is staying home a-lot more. My faith keeps me grounded. He really is in control. Happy Birthday Miss Jodi! Hang in there.

  31. Helene Mewborn - October 24, 2022 5:35 pm

    You are a kind soul, Sean!
    Hope Miss Jodi enjoys this celebration of her life!!!
    From another one born in 1935!,!

  32. Linda Trauffer - October 24, 2022 6:02 pm

    Hi Sean! I’m 82, when I tell people that I’m an octogenarian, they look at me agog. The “O” word does not compute! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as i still believe a “cloud” refers to cumulonimbus, cirrus or stratus! 82, pretty great!

  33. MAM - October 24, 2022 6:47 pm

    Happy Birthday, Miss Jodi! May you get better and make it to 100 or more! And Sean, I would bet that you ARE praying for her. When I say it, I mean it, too. As I am a new octogenarian a few months ago, I’m celebrating it and surprising folks that I look as good as I feel. I, too, like William Stocks, are exercising by long walks, usually more than 3 miles in hilly country. I keep my mind active by running and reporting local news for a local publication, created and owned by me for now more than 12 years! ‘Use it or lose it ‘goes for mind and body!

  34. Jodi Argo - October 24, 2022 6:59 pm

    Thanks Sean for my special day !! And your time. Hope to see you soon. My mother lived to be 102 died in 2012 so blessed. Jodi

    • Margie Hall - October 24, 2022 9:04 pm

      Hi Jodi,
      Happy birthday! Hope you are enjoying your birthday. We miss Bent Tree. It’s a beautiful place to live!

  35. Karen - October 24, 2022 7:24 pm

    Happy Birthday, Ms. Jodi. Sean, you are so thoughtful.

  36. Joseybell - October 24, 2022 9:43 pm

    My husband will be 87 on the 29th. of Oct. I have assured him he can still celebrate 50 days early. Thank you for starting this holiday. Now I have to wait 2 years to celebrate unless you create a 85 year old holiday.

  37. Sheila McCallum - October 24, 2022 11:04 pm

    It stretches my imagination to remember how it felt to be 87. I was in Kindergarten when Miss Jodi was born. I don’t have a serious memory problem (well, maybe a little, like people’s names and that elusive word I just used in a sentence an hour ago,.). To answer your question of how it feels to be old and arthritic, I can certainly address that one.

    Each day has its challenges…some are difficult and others just plain funny if you can stop taking yourself seriously. It’s like this… We need to consider each new crisis as a personal hurdle put in our way to keep us in “solving” mode. My bone-on-bone shoulders and knees struck me as a final blow, but they weren’t. I started Pilates, a gentle-on-the joints workout. I now can walk more, laugh more, and feel very much younger. Everytime I see a new problem, I try to solve it. For improving Memory and Attention, I started LUMOSITY, the online test format., that forces me to face my deficits and to work on them.

    Nobody tells me to curb the absorption of adult beverages, because if anyone is an adult, I am. I notice people look at me when I speak as if they are at the foot of an oracle. That is exciting, since I don’t know any more than I did at middle-age. Maybe I knew a lot then, but nobody listened.

    As to feeling as I did at 27, F**** no. I had a miserable marriage and three children under 5 when I was that age No one would choose that!! Now I have two dogs who keep me walking and amazingly entertained. I love my time of life and feel damned lucky to still be alive.

    I’m not all afraid of dying, but I will miss this crazy world!

  38. Linda Moon - October 25, 2022 12:29 am

    You’d be surprised how many 80-somethings need or could event their own brand of holiday. My family’s twins had a fabulous surprise on their 80th birthday. It was so much fun to keep it a secret ’til the night of the party! Praying and partying seem like a good pairing, don’t you think? And your words thrown in show that you care, Sean, for Miss Jodie and others like her.

  39. Barbara J Schweck - October 25, 2022 2:31 am

    Sean, you are the best!!!! So many older people feel invisible and you are putting us right out there with a very special day!! Thank you and Happy Birthday, Miss Jodie! I am thinking of you and praying for you today!!!

  40. Debbie g - October 25, 2022 11:48 am

    Happy birthday ms Jodi we all love you
    And Sean. What would we do without you and Jamie. Y’all are priceless
    Love to all

  41. Joy - October 25, 2022 5:00 pm

    Happy Birthday Miss Jodi!!! Take care, Enjoy your special day! Sharing extra prayers for you.

  42. chris baxter - October 27, 2022 12:40 pm

    Thanks for this. My dad is 87. Celebrating him along with Ms. Jodi.

  43. Vicky - October 28, 2022 12:51 am

    Happy Birthday Miss Jodi

  44. jan kline - November 4, 2022 9:47 pm

    I certainly can identify with Miss Jodi because I am 86 AND so GRATEFUL TO MY LOVING God who has given me so many miracles in my life and I sure haven’t deserved them..Tyhank you God for loving me11Jan Shirley Kline..


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