Now I wonder what will be in the mail when I turn 70. What life chapter will unfold when I tear open an envelope?
It started more than a decade ago when I neared 50. I came home from work one bright, sunny afternoon in a fine mood. The mail changed that, however, when I noticed a letter from AARP inviting me to join.
Who, me? A senior citizen?
It was an unwelcome jolt that put a severe damper in my day. But I also recognized the fact that I was about to be a half century old and AARP had merely added me to its mailing list. Some of its officers seemed OK, too, so I eventually signed up.
Other than a few dollars off breakfast at a chain restaurant, however, I found few advantages to membership. I am no longer an AARP member, and they sure seem to want me back. I get letters, cards and offers on a regular basis.
I merely recycle the paperwork and ask them to cease trying to lure me back. I accept my senior status — there are some advantages and my gray hair gives it away, anyway — but I don’t see a need to sign up to prove it.
Plus, as Groucho Marx said, I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member. You have to set standards, you know.
My AARP adventures, however, pale in comparison with recent offers in the mail. What am I being offered, over and over?
Life insurance. I am finding out how much I am worth — as long as die. A flood of cash will arrive at my home, I am promised, but I won’t be here to enjoy it or help spend the windfall.
It’s like a funeral. A huge gathering of family and friends come together to reflect on your life and enjoy stories, memories and meals. People go out for drinks to share old tales and spin new versions of family lore. They sit up late and laugh, cry and reflect.
And to think you miss it all by just a few days.
Some of it may even be paid for by your life insurance, too! Talk about adding insult to injury.
Still, I signed up for a policy, providing Grace with some security. The last time I had life insurance was in Oregon in the early 1990s, when my sister Julie and I named each other beneficiaries of policies provided by our jobs. Thankfully, neither one of us collected — although Julie had a gleam in her eye once when I stepped in front of her car when she was at the wheel with the engine running.
A simple slip of the foot and ... a tragedy. One worth about $100,000 to her, she said later.
We knew it was merely a joke, but I never paused in front of her car again, either. No sense putting temptation before someone.
Like the AARP letters, I am adjusting to the life insurance offers. My friend Ray provided a good spin, saying they must consider me a good risk, expecting me to last for a few decades, or they wouldn’t be so adamant about trying to sign me up.
I like that take on it. That’s how I will react when another one shows in the mail. It’s a vote of confidence!
A decade from now, if I am still checking the mail, and I certainly plan to do so, I wonder what will show up.
At this rate, I am guessing it will be offers on prepaying funeral expenses. I’m not dead certain about that, but it may well be the next plot twist.
South Dakota native Tom Lawrence, a former Pioneer executive editor, has written about the state, its politics and people since 1978. Read his blog Prairie Perspective at http://sdprairie.blogspot.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @TLCF26.
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