This rite of passage doesn’t feel right

It’s only a number.

Still, before the day I reach it I am one thing, and after that day I am something else. You see, I received a red, white and blue card in the mail a few weeks ago. Then I filled out the needed papers to add extra medical coverage.

And so, on Aug. 1, only days from now, I will be on Medicare. I will be officially old.

OK, I realize there is no “official” authority or regulatory agency that once a person reaches a certain age declares, “As of this day, sir or madam, you are old.” It’s all in my mind, I get that.

To be honest, it doesn’t bother me at all that I am almost 65 and starting down that road. But it feels like a rite of passage to me. It is a new thing in my mind, a new way of thinking about myself that is now going to be part of my life. It’s like when I turned 16 or 21. It’s like when I got married.

Actually, I won’t be 65 until later in August, but I learned that Medicare kicks in on the first day of the month when you turn 65. I have learned so much in the run-up to Medicare.

For example, six or seven months ago, my mailbox started overflowing with offers from all sorts of companies that sell plans for additional coverage. If there is money to be made, people are going to come to you.

I do wonder how they knew I was getting close to 65. No, actually, I don’t wonder. “They” know what foods I buy at the grocery; what types of books I read; what online items I have clicked on even once. “They” know all sorts of things about me. That’s more worrisome to me than the fact that I am beginning my Medicare adventure.

Well, I may be unofficially old, but I don’t feel old. In my mind, I mean. It varies from day to day and circumstance to circumstance, but mostly I feel like I am much younger that any card I carry proves.

Sometimes I feel like I am half my age. I have talked to other people about this and they, too, usually feel younger than their chronological age. One’s general health might contribute to this sense, but I wonder if it also has something to do with keeping active and alert, and especially of keeping interested in life.

I can’t say for certain, but I believe our dog Sydney feels younger than he is. I must admit, he is up there in both dog and people years. We’ve had him about 14 years. The old rule was to equate seven dog years to one human year. That would make him at least 98 years old.

I think we can agree — officially or not — that is old. Still, if Becky and I walk over to the pond or decide to hike down the dam into the meadow, after a few minutes we look around and there he is slowly following behind, sniffing and curious and interested in life. He is happy to be with us.

Many experts dispute the dog years to people years math. They point out that, for starters, a 1-year-old dog is sexually mature and is more like a adolescent human teenager than a 7-year-old child. Measuring the age and comparing the maturity of dogs to humans is not a 1-to-7 ratio. The two species age differently. Still, there is no way around the fact that Syd is old.

And I guess I am, too. At least in the way some people measure things.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal.