A Tale That Is Told


My blog post today is a shameless, undisguised supplication for birthday salutations on Tuesday, October 17, when I mark “A Big One.”

Your well-wishes for the occasion may take any form you wish: phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook postings, UPS or FedEx deliveries.

Floral arrangements, gourmet food baskets, and show tickets are always appropriate. No puppies or kittens, please.

All I’m after is adulation.

If you’ve read this far and clicked for more, you know me well enough to not expect me to disclose my age.

As Oscar Wilde warned: “One should never trust a woman who tells her real age. A woman who would tell that would tell anything.”

Although I’m not a woman, I ain’t admittin’ nuthin’.

Instead, I’m siding with my guru, Ernest Hemingway:

No, that is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful.


I’m being careful to keep my age to myself, yet careful to make my birthday public lest it pass unbeknownst and ungifted.

I can tell you this much. Through no fault or virtue of my own, I have reached an age that most do not attain.

There are only 20.6 million Americans who are seventy-five or older. That’s only 6.4% of the population. Those figures are a year old. There are probably fewer of us now.

So I’m blessed. Or unnoticed by the higher-ups.

Always, however, scripture grounds us in reality.

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten,” says Psalm 90, “and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years.”

That’s me. Right between those numbers.

As one who built a middling career around writing, Psalm 90 holds special significance in reminding me that, “we spend our years as a tale that is told.”

A week ago today, the architect of my Truro home died at eighty-nine. He had visited me just weeks ago, so pleased to see what had become of his design vision.

Architect Alan Dodge left a portfolio of stunning houses that will enrich the landscape of outer Cape Cod for decades to come. These form the tale of his life’s work, written in wood and stone, concrete and glass.

For me, whose craft is born of sentence and story and words weaved to poem, I seek encouragement from the brilliant British writer, C.S. Lewis:

“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

My own remaining days, I pray, are fairy tales yet to be told.


My newest book, Saints and Poets, Maybe: A Hundred Wanderings, is available at https://www.amazon.com/Saints-Poets-Maybe-Hundred-Wanderings/dp/0990905039/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Showing 3 reactions

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  • Bill Makley
    commented 2017-10-14 10:17:40 -0400
    Well, Peter, as I’m sure you have always achieved the upper percentiles in all you’ve done, here’s one that marks a life well-lived and clearly awake to yourself, your family, and friends. The world is that much better with you in it and could use a lot more “fat men in boats,” to be sure. Happy birthday!
  • Bob Duca
    followed this page 2017-10-14 09:14:29 -0400
  • Allie Nield
    commented 2017-10-14 05:08:29 -0400
    We Happy Birthday Peter. I hope presents arrive and visits from family and friends. God bless you with good health, happiness and many more years here on earth. Sending hugs, Allie