I had my 85th birthday this last week. It’s a new experience for me. I’ve never had an 85th birthday before; I’ll know I’ll never have one again. Obviously.

I don’t feel 85. I don’t look 85. I don’t act 85. That’s safe to say, because these days no one knows what 85 should look, feel, or act like.

Not long ago, 85 meant lying on your back with your hands crossed on your chest, waiting for the coffin lid to close.

During my lifetime, the life expectancy for Canadian males has risen from under 60 to over 80. I have already exceeded my best-before date.

I get at least an hour’s exercise every day. I walk, I hike, I do yard work, I sing. I do the daily newspaper puzzles. And I write. All to keep my brain from coasting into neutral.

But — isn’t there always a “but”? — I don’t do any of those tasks as well as I used to. No part of my body works as well as it did.

Not even my brain. I can’t remember names of long-time friends, who danced with Fred Astaire, or where I left my coffee cup.

As I have written before, I’ve outlived too many my contemporaries. The years feel increasingly lonely.

I’ve gone from operator-assisted phone calls to dial phones to pushbutton phones to cell phones to “Hey Siri.” I’ve gone from flathead engines to overhead valves to overhead cams to plug-in hybrids.

It has been quite an adventure.

And it’s not over yet. Although I have removed some items from my bucket list. I have any no desire to go skydiving, bungee-jumping, rock-climbing without a rope, and crocodile-wrestling. If I ever did.

Once upon a time, I would not have thought twice about driving the Coquihalla Highway while wildfires flared on both sides of the road. I was invincible, immortal. Today, I think twice -— even thrice — and don’t do it.

I don’t take chances the way I used to. I don’t climb anything higher than a household step ladder. Even then, I’m careful. Living alone since Joan’s death, I don’t have anyone around to call 9-1-1 if I fall while changing a light bulb.

My 85th birthday made me feel I have crossed some kind of threshold, some invisible Rubicon. I have entered a new phase of my life.

My almost-brother Ralph Milton defines it as the division between the young-old and the old-old.

The young-old are the newly retired. Without employment to tie them down, they’re free to do all those things they always wanted to do. So they take trips to exotic destinations, practice hobbies, fling themselves into good works.

Instead of a regular income from their employment, most of them have a regular income from their pension plans.

Almost all books and magazines about aging deal with the young-old, assuring people they can still enjoy life to the fullest. They don’t need to be lonely. They don’t need to move to a care facility. They can keep buying toys to entertain themselves.

But that doesn’t apply to the old-old. Their backs hurt too much to play golf. Their fishing buddies have died. They can’t drive. Their children want them to live where someone will look after them.

Life isn’t as much fun anymore.

Ralph noted that there are no books, no resources, for the old-old.

So he wrote one. It’s coming out at the end of October, published by Douglas and McIntyre, called Well Aged.

I recommend it. Because I recognize myself in it. Somehow, overnight, I stopped being young.

It’s not a physical transformation. Something sneaked up on my emotions while I wasn’t watching.

I have to realize that I have no future. No long-term future, at least. I hope to live another 10 years or so. But I don’t expect to be around long enough to cure climate change. To get rid of inequities in Canada’s tax system. Or even to teach literacy in, say, Nicaragua.

I’m not complaining — just stating fact. I cannot change the reality that my life will run out. And that day is getting closer every birthday.

It’s been a great ride. A glorious adventure. I’ve been blessed with friends, with opportunities for service, with the freedom to spend my life doing things I have loved.

I have been blessed. I hope I have been a blessing to some others.

But an 85th birthday makes clear that the status quo cannot, and will not, continue indefinitely.

Jim Taylor is an Okanagan Centre author and freelance journalist. He can be reached at: rewrite@shaw.ca