After I reach 100

By Lloyd Graff

2000-year-old Gandalf

What a day I had yesterday. My wife Risa and I went down to the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago to meet a new lawyer who is going to rewrite our wills. Another chance to contemplate death and decrepitude and the loneliness of life without your beloved partner.

Our lawyer, a thoughtful gentle woman, guided us through the choices that people with financial assets need to consider as they ponder the future.

My wife’s primary concerns were about money for old age. How would she fare without me if she lives to be 90? I must admit that I deeply care about her wellbeing through her 80s, but with my health history I doubt I’ll experience it with her. My focus is the present and immediate future. I think in five year slots of time, and the possibility of a 20-year slide through retirement seems so distant and remote I really don’t contemplate what I’ll look like at 89.

My eyes began to glaze over as our lawyer explained trusts and legal technicalities and minefields. I told her I was reaching my ceiling of complexity, but it was also the difficulty of trying to grasp the impact of my dying for my wife, or the ultimate horror for me if I had to live my life without her. That was a place I just did not want to go. I started looking out the window a lot in the conference room on the 78th floor of the tallest skyscraper in Chicago.

We adjourned at noon because Risa and I had to scurry back to home base for important afternoon appointments. I had a meeting with our business accountant who had my tax return for 2013 and a quarterly statement my banker had requested.

My accountant, a genial guy with a national firm, looked tired and stooped over when he arrived at our door. We had been sparring for weeks over the details of our financials and I had implied that we were looking elsewhere for accounting because his fees were exorbitant.

We had a pleasant meeting as he went through the intricacies of corporate accounting. Again my eyes started to glaze over as his reality of placing round pegs into round holes and fitting numbers into the correct slots banged against my world of turning labor and spindle bearings and creativity into profitable transactions.

A long day of lawyers and accountants, the technicians of the business world trying to make people like me play by their version of Uncle Sam’s rulebook. It was exhausting. Wills and trusts, working around the prospect of death and dementia, and the interests of heirs. Then the accounting issues of IRAs and SEP accounts, when is a sale a sale, and when is a profit really a loss – or is it the other way around.

After the meetings with the professionals were over I was delighted to walk through the factory, imbibe the oil, and feel the comforting surface of a nicely milled screw machine part. That felt real to me. Solid. I was so happy to leave the glum world of death and loopholes.

Question: Would you like to live to be 100?

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20 thoughts on “After I reach 100

  1. JJM

    100? No. I have never personally met anyone who was happy age 100 or older. It is a curse more than a gift to live that long.

  2. Jeff Jackson

    100, Not in this body.
    I’m waiting for some genus to figure out how to transfer my brain into a robot.
    A Hot robot.

  3. Christopher Ferrier

    Today is open enrollment day at work. Healthcare and retirement choices. Photocopied forms to hand-write in the same information over and over. My apartment lease is up: more papers. I’m submitting pre-approval paperwork for a mortgage this week. More papers. Yes Lloyd, there is a mental toll to the non-routine paperwork of life. And yes, the smell of coolant and oil, the thrum of machine tools making good parts utterly soothes this soul.

  4. lance

    no male lives beyond 76 in our family…..why should we? We just have to keep working! Small job shops don’t equate to huge retirement incomes….

  5. TJB

    100 How bad will that hurt? Back, feet, neck pain, exercise hurts but I might die without it. Hurt because of old or exercise well exercise so I feel decent for the next 20 years not live to 100. The rise in heath insurance and taxes I will starve before 100 anyway.

  6. Donald Green

    Depends on whether climate change ruins the skiing.

    But seriously, it depends on how the body holds out. Life is grand, and with luck (and there’s been some in the family already – grandmother who lived to 95, and my dad smoked for 50 years and made it to 86) the body will keep working. I agree though, who would want to live in a debilitated shell?

  7. Dave Bradley

    I am very sure that I won’t have to worry about living to be 90. I hope is to be doing all I can do until I have 1 foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. I hope to be telling all that will listen at that time “Wow, what a ride”. It has been a ride that cannot be duplicated by anyone , as the ingredients (neighborhoods, places of employment, people) don’t even exist today. My children and grand children cannot comprehend or appreciate the things I have been blessed with. I don’t know if I would do things all over the same way, as I always took the hard route for everything. I didn’t get rich, just got by. However, I made the best of what I had. I wish I could turn it into a movie that could be watched.

  8. Bill

    I would look forward to living to 100 as long as I could live and not just exist. My Dad had an engineer who is now 98 and his wife will be 93 next month. Only recently did he have to stop driving, although his license is good until he is 100! Now things are slowing down for him and it is eating at him. Their diet of ice cream and butter seems to be their secret to longevity….

  9. Hal Stacey

    When I was younger, in my mind it seamed that I would always be young and that people 65 and older had always been old. I knew this wasn’t really true, but it really seamed that way. Being young, I did not want to die, I would miss too much. 30 years passed in a New York heart beat and now that I am past 65, I don’t want to die, I will miss too much. I don’t want to be 100, it’s too old but I don’t want die because I will miss too much.

  10. Chuck

    As the saying goes, “Retirement ain’t what its cracked up to be”. A year ago both my parents were in relatively good health. Here I stand on May 15th and they have both sense passed. I watched my Mom struggle for life for 3 months only to succumb to Cancer this past October 1st at the age of 74. Most recently my Dad endured even worse, from the aftermath of strokes, eventually passing on April 12th at the age of 73.

    After watching all their pain & suffering, while observing their fellow patients in the hospital, assisted living, and finally nursing home/hospice, I don’t want to live past 70!!! I’m of the mindset more everyday to live for the moment, pack as much fun and excitement as I can stand into the years between now (51) and 70. If I die sooner from having too much fun, so be it. It sure beats the hell out of going out the way I watched my parents and so many others around them “live”.

  11. Orlando

    I plan life. Death will take care of itself. Most people spend more time and mental energy planning to die. It will arrive when the time comes. Meanwhile, I will not contemplate, anticipate, or await the end of my life. I awake everyday with the intent to strengthen my mind and body to the maximum. I will not slow down because the red light of death looms somewhere in my future. Pain and illness will come and go, but they are only messages, not symptoms. I plan to live life to its fullest until there ceases to be life.

    1. Emily

      What do you mean by “most people spend more time and energy planning to die”? I always thought of Americans as people who are avoiding anything having to do with death and old age.

  12. Emily

    Watching Cosmos on National Geographic has made to want to live as long as possible, just to see what will come about in this world. The technological advances that are coming will be fascinating to watch. Perspective alone would be worth the discomfort.

  13. Peter

    As a bible reader, I’m convinced the day will come when we live forever, and that the bureaucracy running the world will be replaced by a higher power. Until then, I just do the best I can and look forward to the time when people are brought back to enjoy the new world.

  14. John Bressoud

    Well my great uncle lived to be 98 and my father is fast approaching his 91st birthday. Both had pretty good health until the very end. With that kind of longevity in my family I had better plan for 100. I just hope my money will last that long.

  15. mike fassbender

    Lloyd – I recall your making reference some time back to two chaps in south america having grandoise plans of various opportunities and flying their helicoptor into a mountain. – you said “man plans, God laughs”. . . That phrase has ben with me ever sense –

    Do I want to live to 100? Do I want to be immortal? I think AA has it right with “one day at a time” . . . And the Bible has much to say on life – and death. Who are we to ask ?

    Thanks –

  16. Albert B. Albrecht

    Lloyd – I am now 89 nine months from the big 90 – as long one has good health retirement is fine – will I make 100 – that is nor me to determine – I do however recommend that you get a rescue dog – preferable a collie and walk him three times a day – will increase your lifespan three fold.
    Always enjoy your thoughts
    Al Albrecht

  17. Dick Crosby

    My mental approach to age was just fine until I hit 80 (A year and a half ago.), and then it dawned on me what had happened. Damn! I was getting old. Georgia is almost 70, and actually has more health concerns than I, although we both consume our share of pills and supplements. Not too many though. People ask me “Crosby! When are you going to retire?” I tell them “When I hit the wall!” Thank God for my business and the work that goes with it. I can’t imagine not having something to do, every day, in that regard. Every day! But I sure agree with you re. the loss of my partner and spending the rest of my days alone is just plain scary. Cause I’m sure not going to break in another. I threaten her with bodily harm if she checks out before I do. It seems the women have an innate ability and sense of coping with being alone. We men are most assuredly the weaker sex. One of my docs told me I’d live to be 100. I told him i didn’t want to if the world keeps getting nuttzier, and we have the UN or any other world government take over our lives.
    Bring back the founding fathers. I’m positive they had it right. Keep the faith!


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