Norman Lear Turns 98 and Reveals Poignant Message: 'The Thought of Leaving Is Hard'

Sitcom legend Norman Lear has delivered a poignant message after turning 98 on Tuesday. On his Instagram on Wednesday, he shared some thoughts about growing older in a brief video.

"So this is the day after my 98th birthday. It was my birthday yesterday. I'm into my 99th year, and it feels remarkably like my 98th year, which felt remarkably like my 89th year. I don't know; it's all the same," Lear explained. "I can't help, however, realizing I'm closer to that time when goodbyes are in order, I realize I'm not concerned about the going, I just don't like the leaving. And yesterday so solidified that, because I was with all my six kids and grandkids, and surrounded by all the love I receive, all the love I feel."

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"Leaving is hard. The thought of leaving is hard," Lear added. "But the adventure of going remains to be seen. I'll get back to you." Despite the somber nature of his message, Lear maintained his distinct sense of humor. In the caption, he quipped that he "didn't want to muddle with the excitement of yesterday's Emmy announcement," which is why he waited a day before posting.

Lear has previously spoken out about his age, as well as the considerable television legacy he'll leave behind. Back in March of 2019, he addressed Netflix's cancellation of One Day at a Time, which was a remake of a sitcom he helped develop in the late '70s and early '80s. "At my age, I can testify that you are never too old to have your heart broken," Lear wrote at the time. "I'm also convinced love and laughter add time to one's life. I don't know how much time I owe to Gloria Calderon Kellett and Mike Royce, the glorious showrunners on One Day at a Time, but the way they and their magnificent cast — Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, Todd Grinnell, Isabella Gomez, Marcel Ruiz, and Stephen Tobolowsky made me laugh and love across three seasons — I might not have been around to write this without them."

ABC has also celebrated some of Lear's history-making sitcoms with Live in Front of a Studio Audience. The series of live specials recasts some of Lear's classic shows with new A-list talent but performs the scripts as they were initially written — theme songs and all.