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Chapin Day | Turning 80 doesn’t seem as significant anymore

Posted on January 22nd, 2024 By: Chapin Day

Each week,  a Sunday morning CBS television news magazine I frequently watch includes a brief segment of remembrance for notable deaths during the past week.

Usually accompanied by photo portraits, brief summaries of the deceaseds’ significance, and muted elevator music, the feature can vary in length depending upon a tape editor’s judgment and how busy The Reaper has been in the last seven days.

Chapin Day

Celebrities, politicians, actors, musicians, authors, philosophers, scientists — even criminals — dot this Roll of Goner. For years, I have absorbed the segment with reactions varying from honest grief and regret, to indifference, to “Good riddance!” depending on my prior feelings about a fresh corpse when it still had a pulse.

Lately, though, I’ve been focused on the listed age of the barely departed.

“…was 93…” “…at age 86…” “…101…” “…just turned 98…”

Why are these famous and/or accomplished people demeaning me by living so long?  They keep moving the bar.

Last weekend, I turned 80.  I have been inclined to regard that as an accomplishment, one of my very few but still an accomplishment.   The U.S. average male life expectancy when I was born was less than 65.  Fifteen years!  I’m beating that by 15 years!

Well, I did have a little help along the way.  Family.  Friends.  Teachers.  Employers. Colleagues. Doctors. Inventors.  Medical scientists. Whatever forces determine that one returns whole from a war when others don’t.

And I’m not alone.  The present-day U.S. white male life expectancy is over 77.  We’re all sticking around longer than we used to.

So despite my complaints, I’m three years to the good already and starting to adjust my meter to target 90.

By then, CBS will be saying “…was 112…”  “…at age 121…” “just turned 108…”


Of course, I won’t be on CBS anyway.  Turns out just maintaining a pulse doesn’t qualify as news.

Former journalist and yacht broker Day, an occasional contributor to Gig Harbor Now, lives in Gig Harbor with his wife Janet and hopes to continue doing so for many more years.