We’re always getting older. As kids, we welcome the years. We never say, "I’m seven." Instead, we say "I’m seven and a half" Or "I’m almost eight," so eager are we to be older.
I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to go to school.
My sister, brother and I couldn’t wait to be old enough to take driver’s training and get our driver’s license. And so on. You know what I’m talking about because I’m pretty sure you were just like we were.
When we all reach our 30s and 40s, we’re so busy building our careers or raising our families or getting settled in new locals that we barely think about our age.
But somewhere around 50, we start realizing how our birthday numbers are piling up. How did we get so many candles on the cake?
When I grew up, I moved from Michigan to California. Once, when I was back visiting my parents and my mother and I were having one of our deep and meaningful conversations, she said in a slightly amused, philosophical tone, "One day you’re 40 and the next you’re 65 and you don’t know where in the world all those years went."
And I laughed so hard I almost hiccuped. I thought that was the funniest thing I’d heard in a long time.
I’m not laughing now.
Now, I know the truth she was describing.
Among this morning’s headlines was one about 2011 being the year when Baby Boomers start turning 65. According to the article, starting Jan. 1, 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 19 years. We’ll strain Social Security and Medicare and who know what all else. The article said Baby Boomers were frightened of outliving Medicare.
Although that’s a concern, I believe the Baby Boom generation, which found creative ways to deal with sexism, racism and other kinds of crippling prejudice, who established fresh approaches to age-old academic fields and medical practices, who took to the Peace Corps like fish to water and who continue creating new businesses and products …this generation (my generation) will find ways to maintain Medicare’s promise to the elderly of quality medical care.
So here we are, just a couple of days away from the great tsunami of 65-year old Baby Boomers. Will we Boomers infuse our later years with the same energetic creativity and optimism that filled our early adulthood? I’d like to think that we’ll re-define what’s possible for older Americans. Time will tell.
The question that fills me today is, when will I start actually feeling as old as I am?