Former Governor Bill Milliken turns eighty-nine tomorrow. When I talked to him a couple weeks ago, he said, after discussing the current Michigan budget, that I keep getting his age wrong.
“I am actually fifty-three,” he said, before bursting into laughter. Talking to Milliken always perks me up, because I am thirty years younger than the man who I always think of as “the governor.”
And I certainly hope I still have a sense of humor at his age, though by that time I may well want to give up talking about state budgets. I find it very encouraging that there are a great many people who are now living to tremendous ages, and enjoying life.
A week ago, I went to visit former Attorney General Frank Kelley in Florida. He had me hop into his convertible and we sped towards Marco Island, where we had lunch with a tough old Massachusetts politician, Francis X. Bellotti.
Kelley is eighty-six; Bellotti is about to be eighty-eight and looks sixty-five. The two Franks talked about old wars and about John F. Kennedy, who both knew. “When you saw him, you didn’t just think he should be president. You thought he was the answer to everything wrong in the world,” said Bellotti.
Later, on the drive back, Kelley sighed. “It’s hell getting old,” he said. “How would you know?” I wanted to ask.