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.