For 40-plus years, my friend, Mary Pat Finn-Hoag of Norfolk has sent to me cards for special occasions (or just because) stuffed with newspaper and magazine clippings, poems, postcards and photos. Many reflect our common interests as Nebraska farm girls who grew up to be longtime ag-focused journalists.
Tucked into my March 9 birthday card were lyrics to “When I’m 64,” the Beatles song released in 1967, but written by Paul McCartney in his teens. Some lyric changes were made before it was recorded in late 1966, the year his dad turned 64.
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four” plays in my head and I’ve sung it a few times to my kitty, Tas, soon to be age 14. That’s 72-98 in human years, depending on the kitty age calculator used.
The insecure part of me wonders if I’m still needed at work after 42-plus years or in general. So I reviewed some things I expected to do by 64.
I have met a goal to be economically self-sufficient since January 1978 when, at age 21, I started my first full-time journalism job in Alliance. It certainly helped that my parents paid for my higher education and first car — my twin sister got a wedding at the same time.
After counting pennies and eating peanut butter sandwich lunches for many years, I still must convince myself that it’s OK to occasionally splurge on something I want.
I’ve never been unemployed as I moved from newspaper jobs in Alliance, York and Kearney. It took decades for me to realize what a rare blessing that has been.
I never thought I needed to be married and/or have children to make my life complete. Those things might have been nice, but the opportunities never came my way.
At 64, I hope I’ve contributed some value to the world, even if it was just going to work every day. There is a saying that success mostly requires showing up.
I’ve had many life experiences — most directly or indirectly related to work — I never dreamed of as a Franklin County farm kid from Wilcox.
I went to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand with the Nebraska LEAD 20 class, and to Tasmania, Australia, with Nebraska Women in Agriculture. I’ve been on water tours in the Platte and Republican basins, Pecos Basin in New Mexico, and California’s Bay Delta region between Sacramento and San Francisco, and attended 30 National Federation of Press Women conferences at many places across America I probably would not have visited on my own.
I covered two presidents’ visits to Nebraska — Ronald Reagan at North Platte and Bill Clinton in Kearney — and have interviewed other federal officials. I photographed committee members at a 2008 Senate hearing on the Iraq War, including Sens. Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Edward Kennedy and Ben Nelson.
I never imagined I would stand next to Earth and space heroes such as conservationist Jane Goodall and moon walker Jim Irwin, but I did. Or see Washington, D.C., through the eyes of Kearney area World War II and Korean War veterans during Hero Flights in 2011 and 2014.
I’m happy to say I’ve lived most of my life in south-central Nebraska surrounded by farms, ranches and wonderful people. I love knowing that within 15 minutes of jumping in my car in Kearney on a March or early April day, I will be entertained by sandhill cranes during one the world’s most outstanding nature events.
I don’t have a plan yet for when I’m 65 or 70 or older. I expect it will include many of my current activities and amazing experiences I can’t imagine now.
As for McCartney’s “will you still need me” question, the answer was no in May 2006 when he and his wife Heather Mills separated. A month later, he turned 64.
Lori Potter is a Hub staff writer.