4 minute Coffee with Uncle Reggie story: “What happens at age 80?!”
What are your plans at age 80?
There are perks at 80?
Part 1. What happens when it’s also 2020?
Are these dangerous times? The Coronavirus Covid19 outbreak reminded us vividly that we were (then nearly) 80 years old! We saw on the news constant reminders of how dangerous the virus was for “older people”, and the number 80 always stood out as being really dangerous for “them”, those people over 80.
When did we cross the danger line? One Sunday we were the only people sitting in our usual Sunday lunch spot. The usually busy Seattle Eastside café had become eerily deserted. With virus danger signals flashing around us, it suddenly dawned on us that we were the high risk ones! The next day, March 15, 2020, Washington State locked down restaurants, and us!
Somewhere along the way, we had crossed a red line without realizing it. We were non high risk in February 2020, but became high risk sometime in March. Only essential people were not locked in. So officially we were now non-essential, locked-in, high-risk people.
What happens when there aren’t enough ventilators? We began to see alarming reports of leaked Italian hospital documents. They apparently declared that, in view of possible lack of ventilators for Covid19 patients in Italy, people over 80 would not be given ventilator support. Visions of expendable older folk in primitive tribes left out in jungles or ice floes came immediately into mind. Non-essential, high-risk, locked-in, expendable.
Who’s trying to protect us? Actually the phrase “we’re 80” became a good pretext/logic for a lot of things. If anyone actually asked us to do anything like going out, instantly in our mind there was an angel reminding us, “Hey, you’re nearly 80!” Which meant that we really shouldn’t! Nor do anything else potentially “high risk”.
With the stay at home state order, immediately our Seattle family responded and surrounded us, so that we became truly and pleasantly locked in.
Who’s feeling pampered? Our groceries and/or take-out Chinese lunches were brought in by my wife’s niece, and our son with his wife. They joined us for lunch at our home, so twice a week we actually had in-home company, which was comfortingly sweet. We decided that was “Covid19 legal” since we were family.
“老来得宠”？我们的食品杂货和/或外卖中餐是由我妻子的侄女、我们的儿子和儿媳带来。他们和我们一起在我们家吃午饭，所以我们实际上每周有两次会有家人作伴，这是令人欣慰的甜蜜。我们自己认为我们这样决定是符合” covid – 19合法”要求的，因为我们是家人。
For lunch we fondly used our small quaint Chinese marble and wood dining table, passed on from our grandparents, literally from the ancestral Hakka village. It was a historic use for us since we barely used it for dining before the pandemic. So even though non-essential to the state, we were well pampered by family, a very good feeling!
Is there a bonus to this? With the lockdown, surprisingly I saved some normal local travel time, and speedily finished my bilingual Coffee with Uncle Reggie Book 3, to send it off fully to the Hong Kong publishers. And, for the first time I focused attention on distribution issues, which resulted shockingly in 10,000 worldwide orders during the pandemic period. For the first time! Credit the coronavirus!
Why the kid gloves? Touchingly, we sensed our family were handling us now with extra kid gloves, even more gently and affectionately it seemed! And we received phone, email, Whatsapp and Wechat communications about how we were doing, from friends in the USA and abroad. 80 years old might actually be a good number to be connected!
Part 2. What do the numbers say?
How do you view these funny numbers? Seriously, 80 is a serious number, since in theory the average life expectancy for Americans is only 78, so we’re already over that number! “More than expected, sorry.”
However the number for Asian Americans (did you know that?) is supposed to be 86, so we’re not there yet! “A few more years, excuse me.”
And then there are biblical numbers of 70 being the usual limit, but 80 as outlier. So we’re hovering around all these authoritative reference numbers. One conclusion could be, it’s certainly beyond time for me to think about life as being “one day at a time”, never knowing what the next day holds! Which is biblical anyway, at any age.
What about 90s?! I met several people well over 90 years in our Bellevue church and they looked surprisingly spry and healthy. I would have thought they were “only 80”.
Photo 5: Meeting senior surgeon at church. How old do you think he is? I think he’s “only 80”, but see text above.
During the pandemic, I heard on TV about a couple, both aged 99 who lived together in a Seattle nursing home. Remember Seattle is famous for the first nursing home covid19 deaths in USA. One of the couple contracted Covid19, was quite sick but survived, while the other did not even have the disease at all! So life is always full of exceptions to any reference numbers!
在新冠大流行期间，我在电视上听到一对99岁的夫妇住在西雅图一家养老院的故事。请记住，西雅图以美国首例来自养老院的新冠肺炎死亡病例而闻名。其中一人感染了covid – 19，病得很重，但幸存了下来，而另一人则根本就没得这种病!所以生活总是充满了例外!
100s, that’s really old!!? And then we have good friends who were beyond a hundred. A hundred! Even I would agree that’s really old!! We particularly like the story of our dear friend Israel Martin who had a Christian bookstore in Cincinnati. He was driving in his 90s and only passed away at age 105!
In our family there are quite a few in their 90s, or have lived to their 90s and even over 100. Dad’s older sister passed away at age 105. So what do these intimidating numbers really mean? What are we ourselves to expect?
We are especially shocked to hear of numbers of even 120, like the historical Moses, but in modern accounts. They seem apparently to often live in remote mountain areas, “away from civilization”! Presumably away also from pollution and toxins in air, water and food. Certainly away from fancy pricey doctors who prescribe youthful lotions, potions and cosmetic surgery. Even away from modern sophisticated geriatric medical care! What’s going on, we wonder?
Any time is a good time? Since I am a planner, frankly all these numbers complicate my fondness for order and planning. It would be nice to have a sensible number, no glamorous expectations! For example, should I plan to write one more book? As a Jesus believer, however, I’m glad to meet my Lord, anytime. Glad to go when time’s up!
So, are we essential or not? Finally, with the common quip that life has 100% mortality in the background, I re-read one of my Coffee with Uncle Reggie Book 1 stories reminding us that there’s “Eternity in our genes”. So even though we don’t go beyond 80, 90, 100, even 120, genes can theoretically go on and on. Forever!?
But as long as we are still living, at whatever age, 80 or 120, it would be good to be considered by everyone, state or otherwise, as essential, risk worthy and non-expendable. Because we are all honorably created, in the Imago Dei, image of God!