Recently, people I know (or know of) have been diagnosed with very serious illnesses, and there have been some untimely passings.
I admit I have never dealt well with loss – any kind of loss – love, time, money, and especially life. Even if it’s not personal, or someone close to me, I grieve to excess. Those who know me well playfully chide they never know how much I admire a certain celebrity until that artist dies, and I go into “grieve, glorify, and worship” mode. I have no defense to that. It is truth – it’s exactly what I do.
As time goes on, I seem to be plunge more deeply into denial. The recent passing of Lesley Gore, Robin Williams, and Davy Jones before them has just been, well, unacceptable to me.
We are baby boomers.
We were the second wave of real teenagers.
We survived the Cold War, schools filled with asbestos and lead paint, the “new math,” and playground equipment that was clearly designed for population control. We all had chicken pox, measles, and mumps, because there were not yet vaccines against those diseases. Most of us grew up inhaling secondhand smoke in our homes and the family car, thanks to the then socially acceptable smoking habits of our World War II parents.
We rode in cars without seat belts, often perched on the front console between bucket seats, and on long trips, might even be found curled up in the rear windshield.
Without helmets, we rode our bicycles for miles in a day, and played outside until dark.
Our moms cooked with salt, shortening (or lard), and bacon grease.
We survived all these things and more.
We are baby boomers.
We don’t get old.
And we do not die (too) young.
Herein, I suppose, lies my problem.
What is “too young?”
Personally, when I think of old people, I envision stooped, frail bodies, mobile only with walkers or wheelchairs. I think of hands splotched more brown and blue, with merely hints of flesh tone, rather than the smooth beige of middle age, with only a few sun spots. I think of the elderly with misty eyes and weak, raspy voices.
I don’t know of a single person in my generation I would describe that way – at least, not permanently. Recuperating from an injury or surgery may have some of those symptoms, but only temporarily.
Thus, my dilemma. We grew up being told we were “too young”: Too young to drive, too young to vote, too young to drink.
Apparently, I have taken it a step further, and determined we are too young to die.
And another thing, I never want to hear the word “senior,” unless it’s in reference to someone in his/her final year of high school or college.
Now, for the proverbial “call to action:”
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