Ulmer: Reflecting on seven decades

Ulmer: Reflecting on seven decades


Being within days of beginning my seventh decade of life, I’ve noticed that the older you get the faster time seems to have gone. Seems like just yesterday it was 2019 and today it’s 2020 and here you are wondering what I’m gonna say next.

Glad you’re still with me here so let’s begin with a little math. Seventy years of life consumes 25,550 days. I don’t know about you, but it would be quite a struggle to recall what I did on the vast majority of those days, and nowadays I’m lucky if I can recall what I did yesterday. But, as both my loyal readers know, that’s never stopped me from trying. 

My first decade, 1950 to 1960, I made it from birth to the sixth grade. Much to my amazement, I can recall all of my teachers up to that point (Ms. Albers, Mrs. Ereth, Ms. Hanson, Ms. Moen, Ms. Rowe, and Miss Lill). If I work hard I might be able to recall a snippet from each class, but the only one that came to mind is that we were the first fourth-grade class to attend Roosevelt Elementary. Since the new school only went to fourth grade we were sent back to Central the next year.

Like most folks who lived through the '60s, the recollections are kinda blurry. During those years I went from grade school to college. I wasn’t much of a student, but my memories indicate that although I scared my parents close to death a few times, I did enjoy my adolescence, which came to an abrupt halt late in 1970 when I entered the first year of almost 50 years of marriage.

From 1970 to 1980 I experienced my 20s and entered my 30s, where most of my days were consumed with work and ending my youthful ways (then again maybe not). Once I finished college we bought a 1961 Volkswagen van and used it as our home while we traveled the country looking for a place to land. We ended up in Colorado for a couple years and moved back here when our daughter entered our lives. Toward the end of this decade I decided it would be a good idea for me to further my education and convinced Renee that we should move to Missoula so I could get a master’s degree and so we did.

1980 to 1990 started out with me attending graduate school where I majored in white water rafting and tennis. It was a good deal that came to an end when I was required to support three children and move back home. During this decade I immersed myself in politics, got elected to the Legislature, ran a governor’s campaign, moved to Fergus Falls, Minn., and back (it didn’t work out), and ended up being appointed to deputy insurance commissioner for the state of North Dakota when Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota hired me as their chief lobbyist.

1990-2000 - After paying me back for everything I ever did to my parents, my kids finally entered the last stages of their adolescence and we all survived Y2K.

2000-2010 - Through no fault of my own I became a grandfather, read well over the 2,000 pages of Obamacare and understood it all because that was my job. I became eligible for the senior discount shortly after I started going bald.

2010-2020 - I retired, got used to doing nothing all day and not being done by bedtime, and like I said earlier, discovered that the vast majority of the 25,550 days that I have been granted are now buried in the dusts of time.

Since 2020 just got underway, I’ll leave things here and let you head on with whatever days you have in front of you. Hoping that your past leaves you with more smiles than frowns. Happy New Year. 

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.


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