Threescore Years and Ten
Wednesday December 21, 2016
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Today, Wednesday December 21, 2016, I reach the biblically important age of threescore years and ten: 70 years.
The 90th Psalm reads:
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
I am a Baby Boomer. Victory in Europe Day was May 8, 1945. I was born 19 months and 13 days later. As my Dad had been stationed in Iran (helping to protect the oil supplies for the Allies) and took some time getting back to New York, I am fond of saying I was born nine months and 48 minutes from the time my dad stepped off the troop ship.
I always thought that was a funnier line than my mom did.
When I was about 8, my older brother told me that, as December 21 is the shortest day of the year, I didn't get the full 24 hours that everyone else did. I was 42 before I realized it was all about daylight hours. I spent my birthday on Bali once because it is below the equator and I wanted to have one birthday in my life that was the longest day of the year.
Turning seventy is not as big a deal as it used to be. The vast majority of my high school and college classmates are still alive and, judging from the on-going political email traffic, still going strong. But don't let anyone tell you that "70 is the new 55."
Seventy is the new 69 years, 11 months, and 12 days.
I was born in Brooklyn but we moved to a new development on Long Island when I was about six months old. We lived there until we moved to New Jersey when I was a junior in high school. Before my voice changed I was the soloist in the choir at our Synagogue in New Hyde Park, NY.
Maybe because of that, I've been blessed over my lifetime. I've gone places, met people, and done things that regular people simply don't get to.
In the days when you could have new pages sewn into your passport, mine looked like George Costanza's wallet. When that passport expired and I had to get a new, skinny, shiny blue one, I would wave it over my head at the airport and say "This is not my first passport. You should see the one I have at home!"
I was the only one that cared.
I went to Iraq. Been to Afghanistan. Visited a lot of countries in Africa. "Owned" the Middle East and Israel for the EDS corporation after Ross Perot. I went (along with Mullfave Ginny Wolfe) to deliver relief supplies to southeast India and Sri Lanka after the 2004 Tsunami, and was in Louisiana (along with The Lad) a day after Katrina hit.
In the late 1980s I was among a number of small teams of people - Republicans and Democrats - sent to Eastern Europe to help establish democratic systems after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Last year I travelled with my friend Tim Hyde back to Hungary and its neighbors to document the refugee crisis which, alas, continues to this day.
I've worked for Members of Congress and U.S. Senators (including a future Speaker of the House and a future Vice President of the United States). I worked for the Department of Defense both as a civilian and as a six-year member of the New Jersey and Ohio National Guard.
I was elected (after finally getting my degree at Marietta College Marietta, Ohio 45750) to the Marietta City Council, having lost my first race for that seat by two votes. I still blame J. Edgar Hoover for that loss.
Along the way, I had the extraordinarily good fortune to meet and marry my wife, and to watch our son, The Lad (@ReedGalen), become a husband, father, businessman, and media personality in his own right.
I've also had cardiac bypass surgery which appears to have done its job for the past 19 years which, as luck would have it, is about the same amount of time I've been writing Mullings.
Regrets? As the Frank Sinatra song goes, "I've had a few." The main one is not having been a nicer person when I was younger. If I'd known how much easier it was to be pleasant, I would be writing this from my other home on Grand Cayman.
In the 1950 movie "Harvey," James Stewart's character, Elwood P. Dowd, says:
"My mother told me, 'In this world you must be oh, so smart, or oh so pleasant." For years I was oh, so smart. I recommend pleasant."
I wish I'd have followed that advice.
Nevertheless, it's been an amazing ride, and I'm nowhere ready to step off. As Psalm 90 continues, "if by reason of strength they be fourscore years," I'll try to make the next 10 as rewarding as the previous 70.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the 90th Psalm (King James version) and to a video of Frank singing, "My Way," and the clip of Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey."
The Mullfotos are a three-picture set through the years: High School Yearbook, Iraq, and CNN.
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