Sir Paul McCartney wrote “When I’m Sixty-Four” when he was only 16. I first heard it on the “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” album when I was 16. At the time, it was nothing more than another really good song on an album that would become one of my all time favorites.
I had no concept of the age of 64. My father was 53, my mother was 50, and my grandparents were long passed. I had remembered my maternal grandfather as just ‘old’ and married since 1919 to my grandmother. In those days you didn’t ask people how old they were, you just assumed an age or settled for ‘much older than me.’
At 16 I had not yet experienced my first love. My parents had been divorced, my sister was divorced, and the thought of being with someone until I was the advanced age of 64 had no meaning for me. I was a 60s kid and the very idea of being 30 brought on the dreaded thoughts of debilitation and disease.
But then I was in my 30s and my now long married life began. In another month we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary. We lived a great life. We raised children. We cherished each other. And now the words of this nice little song come to life for me.
Today I have completed my sixty-fourth year of life. And when I sing this song around the house I look at my wife with the refrain ‘Will you still need me, will you still feed me, …’ and smile with ‘you’ll be older too …’ Now there remains no question for us to take care of each other as we age. This is only a question for kids who slide through their youth without the certainty of what a long-lasting relationship and marriage means.
I’ve never talked much about my age. Birthdays, and the associated celebrations become just another ‘Hallmark holiday’ to me. You turn 40, then you are in your 40s. You turn 50, and then you are in your 50s. After a while, one year turns into another and you don’t care if you’re 46 or 47. You care that you are living a happy life. You care that you love your spouse more than anything. You care that your children mean everything to you.
I have been fortunate to age well. I have no diseases or conditions, yet I’m a little slower than I was. My wit is not as quick or as sharp. That is to be expected and I feel no remorse for it all. I have been given this life to make of it what I can. I continue to do so. I will continue for as long as I can.
And so I sing to you my sweetheart, ‘will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?’