Beyond Words

By Marshall Chapman


Today I learned a new word. According to my Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, sexagenarian means “a person whose age is in the sixties.” I am sixty-three, so it pleased me to know what I am.

I knew septuagenarian meant a person in their seventies and octogenarian, a person in their eighties. I figured there must be a word for someone in their sixties. So I went on a search.

I first looked up “sesquigenarian.” That sounded like something. But it wasn’t a word. Plus, I had the wrong prefix. “Sesqui” means “one and a half times” (duh!) as in sesquicentennial (150th anniversary). Finally, after more searching, I found it—sexagenarian, and I admit my first thought was Oh, wow it’s got “sex” in it! Like, “Last call” or something. Cool!

Unlike Nancy Reagan types, I feel no need to lie about my age. In fact, the older I get, the gladder I am to have made it this far. God knows, I gave dying young my best shot. But dying young just wasn’t in the cards for me.

I often hear people say, “Oh, I wish I could go back to being in my twenties, knowing what I know now.” Well, I have no desire to go back.

Like others my age, I occasionally climb the stairs in my house only to find myself wondering, Why did I come up here? Sometimes I can recall; other times I can’t. It really doesn’t matter. Why? Because there’s an advantage to short-term memory loss. It’s Nature’s way of keeping us in the moment.

My mother is ninety years old and still drives. She was recently visiting my Aunt Liz, and when she got in her car to leave, something didn’t look right. At first she thought someone had broken into her car and stolen the radio. It wasn’t until she began wondering why she wasn’t making any progress toward home that reality set in. Oh my God! she thought. I’m in the back seat!

Cellulite, turkey neck, liver spots, memory loss?

Bring it on, I say.

Better than being a dumbass 24/7.

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