Some say it’s trudging over the hill. Others consider it the prime of life. Whatever the case, I turn 70 in a few short days, and it’s giving me palpitations as I step into a new decade.

We often take stock of our place on the timeline of life when we add another digit, but when there’s a zero attached, it gives us serious pause. It takes a while to get used to, like realizing you need bifocals or your hair is turning gray. I believe it is a time to reflect and accept our new elevated position among our peers. Yes, we are that old.

At a family dinner recently, word leaked out that shortly both Joyce and I would be turning 70. Several young relatives couldn’t believe it. “You can’t be that old,” said one.“You don’t look that old,” said another. “Really?” Actually, they were denying us that many years to protect themselves.

We have been around for awhile. Joyce moved to Martha’s Vineyard right out of college, in 1969, to teach special needs and raise a family. I followed her 25 years later, after we re-met at our high school reunion in 1995. Moving to the Vineyard at nearly 50 gave me a perspective on the contrast between life on the other side and life on the Vineyard. There’s no doubt the Vineyard has it all.

On the other side, I too taught elementary school, then spent 20 years as a nursing home administrator. Here on the Vineyard I blossomed into a school bus driver, a data-entry clerk at Featherstone, a member of Women Empowered, Martha’s Vineyard Democrats, a Big Brother, an active member of the Y and a gleaner for the Island Grown Initiative.

I love it here. The Vineyard has given me a new lease on life. I feel younger, more involved and have more friends, connections, awareness and appreciation for life than ever before. The Vineyard offers a fountain of youth, an enthusiasm for life.

We appreciate our many friends. We participate in myriad activities. We enjoy the remoteness of Island life in the winter and the immersion of summer tourists. The past 20 years have given me a chance to feel good about myself and to make a small contribution to the world around me.

For the past 10 years I have written books about Vineyard history. The only way I could do that is to have lived here, taken a number of writing classes from excellent teachers, and to have made numerous local contacts. I have the utmost respect for the Oak Bluffs Library, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and the Vineyard Gazette. We live within a plethora of wealth of helpful people and information resources, and for that I am very grateful.

Getting back to turning 70. It’s just a number, another year on the calendar of life. I guess it pushes us into the young elderly peer group, rather than the high end of middle age, another marker to acknowledge. Most of all, however, as long as Joyce and I have each other, and our health, and our friends, and stay here on the Vineyard, we’re happy to keep on keeping on, doing as much as we can, as long as we can.

Thomas Dresser lives in Oak Bluffs.