The definition of elderly

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

Most developed countries have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of “elderly” or older person, according to the health statistics and information systems World Health Survey.

I thought of famous people who are now 65, myself included. I had just recovered from the shock of finding out that Zsa Zsa Gabor, a Hungarian-American actress and socialite, who was 99 when she died Dec. 16, 2016, and Eva Braun, the mistress and later the wife of Adolf Hitler, who died on April 30, 1945, were born on my birthday, Feb. 6! There must be other reputable people who are still going in their 65th year! Eventually, I found the following well-known baby boomers who are also 65.

Bill Murray, movie actor, comedian and actor. His best known films include Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day.

Tony Danza, who played Tony Micelli, a widowed housekeeper, on the television show Who’s the Boss? and gained fame for his role in the series Taxi.

Jesse Ventura, professional wrestler known as Jesse “The Body” Ventura from 1975 to 1986. After retirement, he entered politics and was the governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1969 to 1975.

Jane Pauley, prominent broadcast journalist and television personality who anchored numerous television news programs and talk shows, including The Today Show (NBC), Real Life with Jane Pauley, the NBC Nightly News, Dateline NBC, The Jane Pauley Show and CBS Sunday Morning. She spoke out publicly about her struggles with bipolar disorder and penned a 2004 memoir entitled Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue.

I love this story about some 65’ers who were heroes.

One day a huge explosion at a chemical plant produced a raging fire. Minutes later, fire trucks sped in from all corners of the city. The owner of the chemical plant told the fire chief in charge that all the valuable formulas were in a safe in the company office, located in a part of the burning plant. He offered $100,000 for the safe rescue of the formulas.

The firemen worked relentlessly and bravely but couldn’t stop the fire. The reward was doubled but to no avail. The fire was spiraling out of control. Then, just as things were looking bleak, they heard a siren in the distance. Seconds later another fire truck raced in at full speed with a company of volunteer firemen, all retired guys 65 and older.

The volunteer fire truck never even slowed down, just crashed right through the inferno into the center of the burning building. The old guys jumped out of the truck and started firefighting like maniacs. Finally, they managed to control the fire and eventually extinguished it. The valuable formulas were saved. The plant owner was deliriously happy.

He found the volunteer chief and told him about the reward.

“So, what are you gonna do with all that money?” he asked.

“Well, the first thing,” replied the chief, “is we’re gonna get the brakes fixed on that darn truck.”

I smile when people my age talk about retiring. After all, being a chaplain seems like a 24/7 job, filled with sacred times, as I travel over sacred spaces. Also, I don’t want people to say, “Our chaplain is semi-retired. He goes-half way to work, and then he comes home!”

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix for Siouxland, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.


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