Letters to the Editor: Getting older? A 92-year-old says don’t fret about death, just enjoy the ride

Closeup of an elderly couple holding hands
An elderly couple holds hands while waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.
(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

To the editor: I have driven my 10-year-old granddaughter to and from school for the last several years. Recently, shortly after my 92nd birthday, as we were driving home, she asked me which I would prefer: a short, happy life, or a long, sad life. (“Who are you calling old? An expanding ‘middle age’ upends everything,” Opinion, March 22)

I was stumped, so we headed to McDonald’s to ponder the question. And there we came to a monumental conclusion: French fries and a milkshake can make her happy.

As to that other question, we decided cherishing the happy times and accepting the sad is best no matter how long we live.


So bless your heart, LZ Granderson. At 50 don’t spend too much time thinking about death; you have better things to think about, like writing articles that I need to read for the next 10 years or so.

John Bates, Glendale


To the editor: Granderson perpetuates the misleading statistic that life expectancy has gone way up since the year he was born. Actuarial charts, however, tell a different story.

Yes, at birth in the 1930s, a man would not expect to live much longer after reaching 65. In reality, however, if he managed to survive that long, he could anticipate an additional 12 years. Today, he might look forward to another 16.

In other words, the life expectancy of a 65-year-old male has gone up only four years since 1940, even with all the miracles of modern medicine. This is because fewer babies and children die today.

Life expectancy at birth has indeed increased enormously. My parents, who were born in the 1920s, lost several beloved siblings, as did many people in those days. The death of a baby or child was not extraordinary at that time, whereas today we consider it a tragedy.


When we talk about old age, we need to realize that life expectancy at birth means very little to a person about to retire.

Barbara Kaplan, Los Angeles


To the editor: The further into Granderson’s column I read, the more I saw red. Is he serious, suggesting because more people are living longer, their reward is to toil longer before retirement?

I’m 61, with arthritis and other ailments from decades of taxing labor (always with a smile on my face) in a career cut short by the closure and demolition of the place where I was employed.

Already, the retirement age rug was pulled out from under me. I and millions my age and younger must wait until 67, not 65, to collect our full monthly Social Security stipend. I’m considering accepting the minimum (under $1,000) next year before Republicans are able to achieve their dream of sticking it to poor and middle-class Americans even more.


I wish Granderson a long, healthy life, but for me, hitting the 50-year milestone was the start of life’s path trending downhill.

John Kluge, North Hollywood