Monthly Archives: October 2015

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Chapter 14

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In a few weeks time, I will reach the next decade of my life. Age is an interesting phenomenon. Some say you are only as old as you feel. Others say they wish they could relive their youth and try in so many ways to recreate it. Still others state that with age comes wisdom and that transcends any desire to be young and wild again. From my perspective, the jury is still out.

The one true thing about age is that you cannot stop it. The Byrds made famous the definitive song of the circle of life called “Turn, Turn, Turn”. Written by Pete Seeger who quoted The Book of Ecclesiastes when he wrote that all phases in life were considered a season, the song tells us there is a time for all things including aging. It’s not that I am anxious about reaching this milestone. In fact after the past decades facing illnesses and other factors threatening a long life, reaching this milestone is a cause for celebration. But I think that everyone needs to decide what aging means for them on their life’s journey.

It is a comfort to watch my peers over this past year reach the age I will reach in a few weeks and see how their lives are being lived. There is much vibrancy. There are new careers, lots of travel, creativity that is blossoming. There are also backaches that take a while to recover from, creaky knees and thick chin hairs that are only in vogue during Halloween. Without hair dye, my hair color would rival Cruella deVille’s. I can still dance the night away but it takes me a couple of days to get back to normal. I need glasses to read. Gravity is taking its toll.

It’s also unnerving to watch the never-ending commercials on TV about the various drugs available that supposedly can help my quality of life. The same commercial states the drug can also kill me. The expression “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” does not apply to pharmaceuticals. I want to make up my own mind about what I need to do to keep the quality of my life vibrant.

It’s unfortunate to live in a culture where age is not celebrated. Or at least not celebrated for women. An aging man can wear his silver hair and his life experiences can be envied. “Stay thirsty, my friend” says the aging mythical most interesting man in the world. And yet there are also women who defy age in their beauty and zest for life. Helen Mirren comes to mind. When I turned 30, a friend asked if I was feeling anxious about my age (yes, at 30!) I told her no because all of my role models were in their 60’s and 70’s and I had a long way to go.

It can be a trap at this age to only look back at the path that has gotten us here, has molded us and made us who we are today. But we can’t stay there. We shouldn’t stay there because it is no longer where life is.

Instead we look ahead. I am at a crossroads now. I am at the place where the signs say “Past” and “Future”. Turn, turn, turn. Maybe now is when I am supposed to feel grown up. Maybe this is the time to put away my childish things. Or maybe not. The decisions I have made up to now got me to this point. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a thing to celebrate.

I feel fortunate that I have young people in my life who confide in me as a friend and colleague, not even thinking that I might be old enough to be their mother and sometimes older. They don’t think about my age and that is a blessing. I am happy with how I look and feel. Age is a badge of courage. All great warriors have scars and I bear mine proudly.

I am still unsure of how to celebrate this milestone in my life. But I have to believe that all night dancing will be involved. And family and friends. And champagne. I’m not too worried about that recovery time, though. I have two days set aside to take care of all that.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Chapter 13

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I think I’ll take The Who’s advice and start talkin’ ‘bout my generation. Fittingly dubbed The Sandwich generation, this group of 50 and 60 something’s are pulled in both directions. Our children are 20 – 30 years younger then we are. Our parents are 20 – 30 years older then we are. We have become the caretakers of both. In doing so we have come to relate to not just to our generation but to two others. In my mind, that keeps us young or at least it keeps us on our toes. And sometimes the challenge is just to keep up at all.

Every generation believes theirs was better then the last generation. Better music, clothes, cultural icons. We are better educated, more aware, cooler and hipper. I pride myself in thinking I can relate to my children’s generation. “Oh” I tell them “that sounds just like an 80’s band, we broke the mold”. But whether or not that is true, I am starting to fully appreciate my parent’s generation. After all whatever path they forged allowed my generation to flourish even more fully. One day my children’s generation will think that of mine.

The sad thing about my generation is that we are starting to lose each other. The one common thing among all generations is our mortality. Music lives on, art and books, innovations in medicine and science but our frail selves do not. This past weekend I remembered and mourned and celebrated a dear friend who had passed eleven years ago. I was able to have this cathartic event with two other women who were as impacted by this friend’s death as I was. One was her other dear friend and one was her daughter. Two generations. One heartache.

What’s common among generations is when someone you love does die, those left behind are full of questions. What happened? Why? Trying to find meaning in an event so we can deal with the pain is such a human thing but not exclusive to humans. I have read recently of the intelligence of elephants. How when they come upon the carcass of an elephant that has died, they cover it lovingly with branches, they caress it and often sit with it for a time until they move on. As humans we try to do that too. Even after an event years past we try to find meaning and peace and comfort each other.

I was reminded during the events of this week that death is not really final. We are left with so much of the loved one. Not just memories but scents and textures. The DNA of the next generation carries a laugh, a smile, a human quirk that is totally the last person’s characteristics. In my bonding of this past weekend, my friend felt more alive to me then she had in years. I still have so many questions. And things I will never understand about her life choices but it’s okay. I don’t need to. I can rejoice in the life she did have and the things I drew from it and be thankful.

So this week my loving trio of women danced and sang, we laughed and cried, we mourned and celebrated. We took long walks in the sun and the misty rain. It was the circle of life. It was healing. And that transcends generations.

It was fun to go back in time and remember each other as we were. We poured over photos of our younger selves with the one who was no longer with us. We shared our story with the younger generation and joined with their childhood memories of her too. That woman loved Mick Jagger and so it is fitting that I remember Mick’s lyrics and tell her I miss her like crazy. But all your loved ones from both generations are okay. Rest in peace, Jilly.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom — Chapter 12

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Another devastating mass shooting occurred in the United States last week. How and why this continues to happen is beyond belief. We are supposed to be civilized. We are supposed to be law abiding. We are supposed to respect life. Isn’t that what we teach our children? And yet some children are not getting that message. Some children seem to believe that the only way to assuage their angst or their anger or loneliness or that black hole inside of them is to take many souls down with them. And it seems so easy for them to get a gun with which to do it.

A mere decade ago there was no such thing as a disengaged young man taking a gun with many, many rounds and systematically opening fire on innocent people. There were still many that had the anger, the angst or the black hole but they did not have the means to carry out mass murder. What has changed to allow this to keep happening time after time? Certainly the Internet has been a Pandora’s box of delights and dark deeds. It’s possible to learn anything from there. How to make a pie. Where to buy the best plane tickets. How to build a bomb. In the wake of last week’s tragedy, it came to light that there exists a large Twitter group of people of the same mindset who celebrated the follow through of this young mans’ actions. Why? What makes mass murder a subject of rejoicing? What in this person’s sick mind justified what he did? So many questions with so few answers.

What has really become evident is that there are no safe havens anymore. Those bastions of protection can no longer be trusted. Churches. Schools. Any large gathering whether it be at a movie theatre or a political rally or a marathon is fair game for those with twisted minds bent on wreaking havoc. We must constantly be aware. We must constantly be on guard. And yet this attitude causes even more damage. Profiling. Prejudice. Fear of those different from us who themselves are afraid for their families and their children. We become isolationists in an effort to keep our children and ourselves safe. It is a false sense of security.

I feel as though we are living in the Wild West. The pioneers of this country forged through new lands with unknown dangers. They needed guns to protect themselves and to forage for food to keep their families fed. A gun was a necessity and the right to bear arms became part of the new country’s constitution. Today no one needs a gun. Food is plentiful. Hunting is for sport, a sport I cannot understand. Majestic animals killed for trophies and skins. They are dangerous creatures if angered or crossed, no doubt. But they can only fight with what they were born with. Men can fight with what they have created. I don’t get the high sense of superiority or the thrill a hunter must experience from the hunt. Does the hunting of humans feel the same?

I feel sick in my heart that my so-called powerful country continues to accept these events without any meaningful change. Mine is the only democratic country to have these events continuously happen. I cannot tell my children I love them enough when life can change so drastically in an instant. Each time this happens I think of the parents. What were the last words they said to their child that day? Did they kiss them and send them off or yell at them for an unmade bed or clothes on the floor? Will they forever regret those said or unsaid words?

We will all be so sad for a while and then soon we will all go back to our lives. Except for the families impacted by these tragedies. Their lives will never go back to what they were. The rest of us can forget about it for a while. Until it happens again. And it will. Unless we can finally find the courage to say enough and do enough to keep guns out of the hands of lost children with violent intent.