Sunday, June 17, 2007

An Age Old Reminder

I am sure I must have shared my feelings about Mothers day and Fathers day, both of which I despise. They are holidays that provide some people with an excuse not to be involved all year and then low and behold, there is one day when you receive a Papal dispensation. If you celebrate this day with Mom or Dad, go out to lunch, buy a card, a gift, that is supposed to make up for all the time you were out of touch. We search the stores desperately trying to find a sentiment in a card that is appropriate to what we perceive we are supposed to feel. OK I’m sounding a bit cynical, but as my mother always said, “everyday is Mothers day and Fathers day, if you have to try to fit it in 24 hours, it won’t mean anything.”

I don’t feel any differently about Christmas or Yom Kippur. They are supposed to call our attention to the way we have behaved all year. On Christmas we give gifts that suggest a reward for being “good” and on Yom Kippur we fast and sat prayers asking g-d to write us into the Book of Life for another year. But we only pay attention to the way we behave for a limited amount of time—never every day throughout the year. At least not most of the people who I know and even adore.

Milt Groman (after WW2)

Anyway, speaking of fathers. As I have mentioned many times, David is a very good one. He’s also a good son. He even went out to Victoria Mews and spent quality time with my mom. It was a nice and thoughtful thing to do. And he was able to check out her physical condition – which has been of concern since she fell so many times this week and spent a good chunk of it in a wheel chair. I haven’t been able to make the trip yet, because I am having some vein surgery—but I’ll get there this week. Mom’s slow but steady deterioration is a reminder that we get old and frail and can only hope for our demise to be happy and dignified.

Ted Burnett, late 1940s

When you are a baby boomer you get to thinking that everyone is like you so you don’t see yourself age. I am still very close to people with whom I went to elementary school, high school, and college. When you remain friends with people for 40 or 50 years you may see some lines on their faces but you don’t actually ever think of them as old people, because if they are old—what does that say about you. Sure we look in the mirror and see lines and a bit of sagging, We exercise and we diet but we get slower and the pounds don’t come off so easily. This is not meant to be a whiney dissertation on life, it is instead a whiney dissertation on the battle of aging. For my part, I really want to age gracefully, but I am often tempted to help it along. Like trying to get rid of the varicose veins with a little surgery or using all kinds of creams which are supposed to smooth and defy the aging process. The attempts are futile but the marketing is terrific.

Last year David and I went to a Moody Blues concert. We were very excited about reliving our youth. He was a Blues fan, and I don’t remember anything about the seventies, except I had a great baby, finished my graduate degree and got involved in politics—all of which took up so much time I never got into the music. So I was happy to refresh my memories about some popular tunes. Well, we walked in and we noticed that we were surrounded by old people. And they didn’t only look like the elderly. They were dressed like people dressed for a Blues concert -- way back when. It wasn’t fun or hip. It was close to pathetic -- And they were us.

Just to make sure I didn’t forget that I was them, I went to a high school reunion. I think I may have written about this—but my cells are dying so I can’t remember. My friend Andy and I walked in and realized that we were in a place with old people. It was a revelation. Then, David found a Gefilte Fish tape that was 20 years old. And in it my Mom and Aunt were in their 60’s. We are in our 60’s. It was a little too much of a reminder that we are on our way to where they used to be. Oh my!

I read a news piece the other day written by an X or Y generation person. She said she was just sick to death of having everything—TV, advertising, activism, diseases, psychosis, etc., revolve around baby boomers. She claimed it was unfair and it was like no one who followed us had any merit or importance. That was a little bit of an overstatement but let’s be honest, anyone who is not us benefited from what we did and haven’t really done much more—except in technology. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration as well, but I am a boomer so I know the truth. We were a large and special generation. We are all losing our parents and our hair at the same time. We are suffering from diseases that were hardly noticed before because we have big numbers. Things like breast cancer, AIDS, colon cancer, urinary tract problems and high blood pressure related problems have reached epic proportion because we are disproportionate. Should we find comfort in the fact that whatever we are going through, we are going through together.. Or because we have the potential to be so powerful, should we strive to love our parents and children, be diligent in developing positive attitudes, regardless of whether it’s Flag Day or Secretary’s Day, and should we encourage our kids to be relentless in their work to advocate a peaceful, kinder and gentler world. I guess we all have to make our own decisions about how gracefully we are really going to age. We’re just sayin...Iris


Anonymous said...

The commercialism of Christmas may make us believe that the time is about reward for good behavior. At least that's what we tell our children.

For me the season is actually about God's calling to let God's love be born in one's heart.

Anonymous said...

What?! How could you study without listening to the Moody Blues?
And about generations 'x' and 'y'..What about 'the sleep generation zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

Oh, geez..that's SUPPOSED to appear as Z's..

Iris&David said...

our dad's were hot! aand the apple..... need I say more

Anonymous said...

No..not really..And's truly beyond great when you've a wonderful dad..I was blessed with one of the greatest, myself, I am proud to say..