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Blessed to see so much, so far

I have a birthday coming next week.

In four days, I will attain an age I thought in my teens I would never reach. I will be 70.

When I was 17, 18, the prospect of reaching 70 seemed insane; 40 was old and 50 was downright ancient. Right now, 50 looks pretty good and 40 even better. It seems now like I bypassed 40 and 50, touched on 60 and suddenly the Big 7-0 is staring me in the face.

I guess I should have known my advanced age was coming; the signs were all over. I was beginning to slow down; the kid who could run a flight of high hurdles in less than 15 seconds (yeah, I really did) has long retired and might be able to run the same distance in 15 minutes. That lean body I had as a teen that was built for speed is now built for comfort.

There are those little twinges — those aches and pains from the aging joints that creak and groan as I move.

Several years ago, I developed “paw-paw’s disease,” the condition that arises when one kicks back in a recliner and falls asleep. I tend to let things slip my mind, although my wife said that condition was in effect when I was much younger.

My hair slowly changed from brown to a multicolored salt-and-pepper look and is now just becoming gray and distinguished. I guess I should be thankful I haven’t had the fate of some of my high school friends who are now bald.

Last year I applied for Social Security and Medicare.

I guess the one thing that has allowed me to make it this far is that I, like many Baby Boomers, have benefited from advances in medicine and health care that allow us in many cases to live longer than our parents (my mother died at 95 and my father at 60).

When I sit back and look at the seven decades I’ve lived, I realize I’ve seen a lot of history.

Through the years there have been wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. There have been American incursions in Panama and on St. Georges Island. There was Korea, but I was still trying to figure out whether I liked strained carrots and how to cope with a new world while Korea was going on; I had to read about it later.

I and the rest of my Baby Boomer cohorts watched the U.S. send a man into space, put men on the moon and man a space station. We watched presidential elections, saw President John F. Kennedy assassinated, Ronald Reagan shot and two failed attempts on Gerald Ford.

We had Woodstock, Mardi Gras and spring break.

So as I sit looking ahead to reaching the next milestone in life, I’m ready to face it head-on and move ahead. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I’ll face it with the same attitude I’ve had since Hurricane Katrina — adjust and adapt.

I’ve witnessed a lot and I’ll see a lot more. The next 30 years will be interesting.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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