Singing the 65th ‘Birthday Blues’

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Wish I could tell you how well I coped with turning 65 last Saturday. Problem is, I don’t like to lie.

And I really, really tried. I channeled my mother, remembering how incredibly rich she considered her life, how loved and honored she was when she was with us and how well-remembered and lauded she still is. I counted my many, many blessings and spent the weekend before being adored and considered absolutely indispensable by a 4-year-old grandson.

I counted every single Facebook birthday wish, every card in the mail and dinner celebration as a sign of popularity and relished in the ego boost.

My actual birthday on Saturday was wonderful. My husband and I were hosts for a baby shower for two of our favorite people who will soon welcome their first baby. Sharing the day with Mitch and Amy and watching them glow, plus reconnecting with friends of our Brett and Olivia, was a perfect way to spend a birthday.

It all worked until I was 65-plus-1-day. On May 19, I got the blues, the blahs, the grumps.

Part of the trepidation comes from the fact that my mom died at age 65, so there is a little fear but mostly sadness. I am looking forward to so many things that she missed with her children and grandchildren. I have missed her at every milestone in our lives since 1990. I really want to be around for as many of those events as possible.

I always allow myself some true reflection on my birthdays, even if it makes me sad. I think it is good for me to think about all the different aspects of my life – what went well, what could have been better, what crashed and burned and what was absolutely filled with blessings. I think about them, experience the emotion they bring with them, and then I’m ready for the next day.

So what’s different this year? If you have to ask, you haven’t turned 65 yet.

For the past six months and continuing today, I have been bombarded with phone calls, emails, fliers, letters, packets of papers and offers of one-on-one meetings because I am now “Medicare eligible.”

When they discover I am self-employed and not “covered by an employee plan,” they actually get giddy with happiness. EVERYONE wants to be my best friend, with a supplemental policy in hand.

At first, I appreciated the information as my situation is a little different from what my husband navigated when he turned 65. He was most helpful, but there were some things I had to find out for my particular set of circumstances.

Not that most of these phone calls and letters and emails were very forthcoming with information. They just wanted to get me on the phone, get my Social Security number, a credit card and my recorded voice saying, “Sign me up.”

As a result of the zealous marketing – it must be a billion-dollar market – I have been reminded several times a day for the past six months that May 18 (actually, May 1 in the world of Medicare) is a “milestone” for me.

OK, I get it. I turned a corner, and I will just make the most of it. But now I want the hullabaloo to stop. Although there are some who would testify that I don’t honor the concept of “deadlines,” I did honor this one, and I signed up on time, and I’m not in the market anymore. I’m ready for the “Celebrating your transition to Medicare” (yes, a flier actually peddled that tag line) to stop.

If they continue, all the political solicitors might get a busy signal.

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