Hi everyone. My name is Malcolm Edward Hein (you can call me Malcolm) and I will be hosting this column on senior affairs. Let me begin by telling you a little about who Malcolm is. I am New England boy, born and bred in Haverhill (Massachusetts) , relocated against my boyish will by a solidly grounded but upwardly mobile father to the lesser parts of the New England (sorry, New Bedford and New Haven), then in my early teens to a town on that big lake in Michigan. When I return there in my head I find fond memories, but nothing powerful enough to have kept me or draw me back. (In love and deference to the lifelong friends I made at the University of Michigan, I make one exception: Ann Arbor will always own a part of my heart.)
Places in the heart.
My post-college years brought side trips to various parts of America where I worked as an aerial photographer, a computer guy, the proverbial traveling salesman – the list goes on – but circumstances drew me back East, initially to New York. I can’t say as I hated it. Long Island, especially the North Fork, reminded me so much of New England and it, too, has a piece of my heart, what with marriage and two beautiful daughters. Finally I arrived back home in Massachusetts. Of course, there is more to my life, but the big picture should suffice. Now, before I get back on point, this comes from my heart: I was incredibly fortunate to have a good mother and father who taught their children grounding values and always to put others first without putting themselves second. Unless you are whole and happy you certainly cannot help others or raise children to be such.
My coming to Newburyport reminds me of a pre-arranged wedding. The two of us were familiar but distant; coming together for life was not our fairy tale. Yet when it happened, we learned to live with each other and, darn it, we found the love we always sought elsewhere. Listening to life is like listening to Mom: You can’t go wrong, but when you do, you can always go back.
What do I hope for this column?
I hope to enlighten and entertain you, my audience, as well as myself during the time we spend together. I hope to inject a sense of humor so we can have a few chuckles together and avoid taking ourselves too seriously. The generation gap can never be bridged, but it can be narrowed and crossed. We need youth and her new radical ideas else we’d still be cave-dwellers. We need the ages of experience the older folk provide. The end of one chapter is just the beginning of another.
Understand, too, that all writing is a lie to one degree or another, a lie that can help us to see the truth.
How does one qualify for senior citizenship?
Age is the best criteria, I suppose. But what age? I’ve seen restaurants offer discounts at 55. You can start collecting social security at 62. Searching the Internet gives no satisfactory answer, placing the age between 60 and 65 though being retired or aged 65 seem to be the most common mileposts. AARP allows 50 for membership. The truth is there is no definitive answer. (There is, however, evidence that Otto von Bismarck designated 65 as the age at which German citizens could retire at the expense of the state. That was a safe proposition in the late 1800s since the average life span was 45.) I know people in their 80s who still work and are more active than people half their age. I know people in their 40s who are retired and ride around in golf carts the day long. I guess if you can save a few dollars by claiming seniorship, do it. And if you don’t feel like being pigeon-holed and labeled, being pinned sprawling to a wall like an old butterfly specimen, you’ve earned the right to refuse any and all labels and epithets. That is an inalienable right at any age by my estimation.
Your feedback will be vital.
We want to hear from active seniors on the secrets to staying young and happy in Newburyport. We’ll advocate for seniors, but we will not portray them as dependents for they remain the one group of contributors who have, by virtue of their years of experience and accrued wisdom, so much to offer. We’ll advocate for youth for they are our future.
Everyone on Earth is a future senior citizen. We’re all on the same river. Some of us are just a little further downstream.