I keep getting this "junk" mail reminding me I'm getting older.

How would the sender like it if I wrote them to let them know they were gaining weight?

Who is this AARP anyway, the American Association of Retired Persons?

I'm not retired, just tired.

I keep getting offers to join this club with promises of a monthly magazine, dental coverage, a bulletin newspaper and a promise to fight age discrimination all over the country.

And I shouldn't forget the free insulated travel bag they added to entice me. Maybe I should hold out for a Snuggie.

The only thing that slightly appeals to me is the discounts on hotels and other such things.

The down side is that I'd have to take the membership card out of my wallet and show people. Worse yet, they might just look at me, shake their heads and give me the discount.

I'm just a few days from adding another candle to the pile that's forming on my birthday cake.

The number of candles is starting to resemble a bonfire.

I used to be the guy who never thought about age at least it never bothered me, but since I've started on the downslope of life, it's hard to ignore that the numbers are piling up.

So for almost a year now, the AARP has been corresponding with me. So far, its interest in me has been unrequited.

I'm sure it's a good organization and the discounts alone would pay for the membership, but I've got a mental block about joining.

It means I really am getting older.

You know the saying: Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. Age is like that.

We spend a lot of years and waste a lot of time wishing we were older.

When we are young and little, we always want to be bigger.

Bigger meant you could go places without Mom and Dad.

Bigger meant staying up later.

Bigger meant more responsibility.

We can't wait to get to high school because those kids seemed cool.

We can't wait to get out of high school and find a job or go to college because that seemed more adult.

We can't wait to graduate college and get a job and our own place to live.

But at some point, our feelings start to turn about age.

As the years go by and we find ourselves married with kids and a mortgage, we no longer wish we were bigger or older.

We start letting the birthdays go by, hoping no one will make a fuss.

Some even start subtracting years, trying to roll back their personal odometer.

I've never tried to hide my age or forget it's birthday time, but I have become more aware that the number has reached a level I never contemplated.

Growing up, I never thought of myself at 40 or 50. Now I wonder what 60 will look like and hope there are many more celebrations after that.

I guess we all reach a point when mortality creeps into our heads, and these letters from the AARP are another reminder of that.

Now I have to decide if the discounts are worth admitting to the world I've reached this point in my life.

Maybe I'll just change my address.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.