A week ago, Carolyn and I flew to Texas for a nephew’s wedding. The trip brought up separate thoughts about flying and mortality. 

A 6:00 am (ugh!) flight took us from San Francisco to Dallas-Fort Worth International to change planes for Waco. We flew coach. Ugh again.

Flying once was exciting and comfortable. Today, security procedures mean long lines (thank goodness for TSA Pre), translating to getting to the airport ever earlier. Then the airlines show how far flying has descended.  

Rising fuel prices and COVID decreased routes and flights. Passengers resemble sardines. Want more legroom? Pay. Check a bag? Also pay. So many people bring carry-ons, boarding and deplaning take forever. Meals in coach? Fuhgeddaboudit. You’re taking a bus with wings.

Yet, sometimes things that get fouled up work out. Returning on Monday, we experienced a sort of Groundhog Day. Our flight from DFW was delayed. Once boarded, a mechanical problem required a new plane. But after only a few minutes, we were directed to a gate in a different but quickly accessed terminal. A plane awaited! We boarded. Same process, same people in the same seats, same bags in the same overhead compartments. We took off three hours late, but we took off.

Thoughts about mortality? The wedding triggered them.

The ceremony and reception were held at The Barn in Hewitt just south of Waco. Stubbly fields undulated out to the horizon. Horses grazed. A stone patio hosted the brief ceremony. Inside a pleasant venue made over for celebrations, we enjoyed a fajita buffet. A Bundt cake served as a tasty wedding cake.

Towards the end of the evening, I realized that I was the oldest person in the room. I didn’t check IDs, and people age differently, but I’m pretty sure. I’ve never before experienced that.

In many ways, I don’t think of myself as old at 77. I have my hair and teeth. I keep writing fiction; my latest novel, Lola Flores, will be available later this month. I walk 4-5 miles daily. I keep in touch with family and friends. Tonight will find me at Congregation Sherith Israel for Kabbalat Shabbat services. Hell, 80 is more than two years off. 

Then again, my father Morris died at 80. So did his father, Grandpa Sam. What genetic timebombs await me? I don’t know and don’t give it much thought.

Still, my ongoing status leaves me with mixed feelings. I don’t have the energy I did at 67 or 57. But my kids are adults and doing wonderfully. I have the freedom and time to focus on writing and be there for Carolyn, family, friends and community. I try to do the “little” things about which Rabbi Larry Raphael (z”l) wrote—small acts of kindness that, when aggregated, can make a big difference.

Mortality isn’t—and never has been—sneaking up on me. Every birthday reminds me that life runs its course, and my time grows shorter. In response, I hold my head up, take each day—and birthday—as it comes.

I can live with being the oldest guy in the room from time to time. If and when those occasions grow more frequent, okay then! Given reasonable health, I’d be foolish to complain—and equally foolish to deny the challenges ahead.

Enjoy a great and timely read with my novel 2084. Order in softcover or e-book from or your favorite bookstore.

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  1. David Newman on April 1, 2022 at 12:23 pm

    We are off to Kansas City in April — also for a nephew’s wedding — and Ellen and I will probably be among the oldest in the room. Nevertheless, we will still be on the dance floor, although not for as long as we once would have been. Our endurance is not what it was when we were younger, but hopefully we are wiser about marshaling our physical and mental resources.

    The experience of being the oldest (or among the oldest) in the room happens more and more frequently — on boards, in restaurants, at events. It’s either something to lament or to rejoice. For the time being, I’m going to enjoy the experience and hope I don’t hurt myself trying to keep up.

    Would I trade my lifetime of experience for another run of youth? I don’t think that’s been offered, so I’ll have to make do with life as it is.

    May we live to be 120 — or may we live to be 100 and feel like we’re 20.

    • David Perlstein on April 1, 2022 at 1:12 pm

      Agree with all of it, David. Must say though, that I’ll settle for living to 90 and feeling like 50. (Not as poetic but perhaps more pragmatic.)

  2. David Sperber on April 1, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    My mom and dad set bad examples. 211 years between them. Here at 78 i feel much older than i did even 1 year ago. Degenerated disks and arthritis taking a huge toll. Can’t even walk 1 block before pain from my hip down to my ankle. Good luck chasing after my 2.5 year old granddaughter. Problem is, doesn’t hurt while seated. Is it possible to think young while feeling old?

    • David Perlstein on April 1, 2022 at 3:22 pm

      You hit it on the head, David. Thinking young while feeling old can be a great help–also a great challenge.

  3. Jesse & Roberta on April 2, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    Feeling Old? Last I saw you both looked “simply marvelous” as Billy Crystal would say.
    I felt a little old a few years back when invited to Bat Mitzvah and We’d hardly ever seen her and she had no idea who we were ,but was polite.
    By the way, we’re Grandparents now….11days ago😊
    All Good.

    • David Perlstein on April 2, 2022 at 8:05 pm

      Mazel tov Jessie… and Roberta. How exciting. Wishing your grandchild a long life of fulfillment. And yes, we look pretty good for old-timers. Hope to keep it that way.

  4. jean wright on April 3, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    I’m in my mid 70’s, have had a few serious health problems in the last year or so, and am too deaf to comfortably fly alone. I still love my life, just as it is, and wouldn’t trade it for being mid 60s or mid 50’s or mid 40’s. I’m happy, more accepting, and satisfied with what I have in the moment. Being old has it’s gifts.

    • David Perlstein on April 3, 2022 at 9:00 pm

      You have shared some real wisdom, Jean. The older we get, the more we get to know ourselves and become more comfortable with who we are.

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