Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boomers Unite!

I had a shock last week, so startling that I was immobilized for the rest of the day. A group of us were talking about age. Unfortunately, the rest of the group were all younger than me by anywhere from 5-30 years. Before I knew what I was saying, I blurted out that I would be 60 in July. It was the first time I had actually verbalized that fact. I was shocked. There was silence, and then sympathetic looks all around. I try to be realistic, but this was a reaction I hadn't expected out of myself.

I knew this was coming. A man that I don't even know called me "young lady". My husband naively commented that this was probably a compliment, but I know that people say these condescending things to people of my age as a well-meaning gesture of kindness.

It's like that first time that some twelve year old at the checkout counter or the ticket booth looks at you, pops her gum, adjusts her nose ring, and says, "Do you get the senior discount"?

It's the waitress who says, "And what can I get for you dear"?, and pats your shoulder.

And the 18 year old doctor who starts his sentence with, "At your age......"

And, the first time you realize that you haven't recognized any musician or group since 1980, and who the heck are any of these people at the Academy Awards? And, you mention Jimmy
Stewart to a group and they don't know who he is!

Someone asked me recently if I could still run. Sounds funny, but I didn't know. All of our lives we sort of took it for granted. We ran as kids. We ran after our kids. But, for some reason, I haven't had any need to run lately. I waited until no one was around, and then trotted up and down the back sidewalk a few times. The first thing I noticed was that the hips moved funny now. You might say - stiff. Next, I wondered if I could skip. To the amazement of our dog, I skipped through the kitchen, the family room and back to answer the phone. My husband was calling from work. "You alright?" "Yes", I wheezed. "I was skipping". There was silence. He didn't ask.

Hey, we were the "Pepsi generation", the boomers, the hippies, the flower children- (well, I wasn't exactly because I'm from a small midwestern town, and we were really rural.) But at
least we were "way out" in spirit. We were going to change the world.

Two years ago, at our 40th class reunion, the chairman got up, looked around and said, "Where did all these years go?" Where did they go?

Anyway, I started to take stock, face this head on, and make some survival rules for myself.
Boomer suggestions welcome.

Rule 1.
Realize your age, but don't dwell on it. My grandparents never mentioned or complained about their age. They didn't seem to notice.

A woman I know, who is about 70, ran her first marathon, sky-dived, and bungy-jumped all after her 60th birthday. Last year she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. She says, "never limit yourself by thinking about your age first". See, I am way ahead of her already. I don't want to run a marathon, sky-dive, bungy jump, or climb a mountain. I just want my knees to work, both going down to pick up something and coming back up.

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