Thinking Young

August 19th, 2010

So I guess this is the way it’s going to be from here on out. Having turned 50 in June, I have received at least three direct mail offers in the last few months from AARP about joining their organization. Really? I have 10 more consecutive years of kids’ college tuition to pay – having only completed the first two. Plus, after the ‘lost decade’ of investment earnings, any thoughts of retirement aren’t circling around my head.

The good news is I can still run five miles in under 43 minutes – and my endurance continues to increase in the swimming class I began 10 weeks ago. I had a heart CT scan two weeks ago that came back perfectly fine, and later this month there’s that wonderful procedure us older folks get to enjoy called a colonoscopy. Ah, the fun that comes with the changing of the calendar.

At the recent Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony, the first speaker was former Detroit Lions defensive back Dick LeBeau, who started his playing career the year before I was born and retired form the NFL in 1972. He’s spent the past 38 seasons as a coach and earned two Super Bowl rings this decade as defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dick LeBeau will be 73 years old in a few weeks. He looks 20 years younger, and so far this year has shot his age on the golf course 18 times. The final minutes of his induction speech really impacted me… and I repeat them here in hopes they’ll touch you too:

“Life is for living, folks. Don’t let a number be anything other than a number. Don’t let somebody tell you that you’re too old to do this or too old to do that. Stay in life. Life is a gift. It’s a joy. Don’t drop out of it. Don’t let somebody else tell you and don’t let your mind tell you.

If I would have gotten out of my life’s work at 65 or 67, when they say is the age of retirement, here is what I would have missed, folks. I would have missed not one but two World Championship football teams that I got to be a part of…. I got to be a part of a number one defense that statistically had the lowest numbers in the last 35 or 40 years. I had my number retired from my high school. Had a building named after me in my hometown. I made the Detroit Lions all 75-year team. I was accepted into the Ohio State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Now tonight I guess when I sit down, get off this speaking, which I’m gonna do, I’ll be in the NFL Hall of Fame.

My mother always said, ‘Onward and upward, age is just a number.’ God love y’all. Thank you.”

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