By Bill Sniffin on Tue 05/21/2013 10:58am
I am the oldest baby boomer. By my reckoning, my parents conceived me sometime in June 1945 and I born somewhat early on March 21, 1946.
Behind me came another 76 million boys and girls, the largest generation of Americans in our country’s history, the Baby Boomers.
And now, here we are, gray haired, on social security and Medicare and, frankly, stunned. How could this lifetime have passed by so quickly?
At 67. I am in denial that that person in the mirror is really me.
Some years ago an ad campaign that was targeting folks like us was a big failure. They used models who were gray-haired and our age. The ad folks found that we responded much better to ads featuring middle-aged folks . . . you know, like 45.
It’s been said that 60 is the new 40.
Well, maybe it’s the new 50.
And speaking of 50, my family put on a big party for me here I Lander when I hit that magic age. The theme was “how does it feel to have your future behind you?”
Turns out, there was a lot of future ahead of me.
The past 17 years have been crammed full of lots of projects and events. What is in store for the next 17 years? Hmmm, I will 84 at the end of that period.
One of my projects is actually writing a book about those folks I call “FirstBoomers.” To me, this should probably include anyone born during World War II as well as those of us born immediately afterward.
By my reckoning, “FirstBoomers” are folks born between 1940 and 1953. Anyone now just turning 60 and those inching toward 73 would qualify. This is an amazing group of folks.
If we are talking about these lives using seasons as metaphors, our Autumn is rapidly turning into Winter.
A biblical prediction is that if blessed, we will be given four 20-year periods in our life. Spring is youth, Summer is the prime years, Autumn is slowing down and Winter is, well, wintery at best.
As part of our FirstBoomer’s lives, Spring was wonderful. Not sure any generation of people ever had it so good job-wise as the Firstboomers. Jobs, careers and opportunity were plentiful in America in the 1960s and 1970s.
What I would call our Summer period was just fine, too. We did not bear quite as many offspring as our parents but we populated the country with quantities of Gen X, Gen Y and Millennial young people.
Now, as we are nearing the end of the Autumn of our lives with almost-golden wedding anniversaries and grandparenthood, we have found out we can thoroughly enjoy living vicariously through the exploits and adventures, not just of ourselves, but of our children and grandchildren, too.
And even though, at 60, we want to believe this is the new 40, our bodies usually tell us something differently.
It is astonishing the number of my contemporaries who have turned into bionic people. Artificial knees, hips and shoulders plus hearing aids and new eyeball lenses (due to cataracts) are commonplace.
Type 2 diabetes is a virtual plague as it accompanies its most common attribute, obesity. Younger folks talk about their BMI (Body Mass Index). Most older folks hesitate to take the test.
My doctor says I am in pretty good health but he still put me on a statin and other meds he thinks will prolong my life. I hope he is right. Of course, it doesn’t make me feel any better when I have grandchildren that look about his age.
And taking all those meds can’t help but make me nervous. Most of my friends are popping their own regimens of pills each day for real and/or imagined ills.
The good news is that if we have lived this long (if we are not smokers or cancer-prone or heart attack-prone), the odds are we may live for another decade or two.
Despite all the above, personally, this is a very exciting time to me. I can see more books, more travel and more community service. More time with grandchildren.
Our children, who are in their 30s and 40s, already refer to themselves as “chopped liver” when it comes to relating to us over how we relate to our grandkids.
My favorite project going forward might be writing a book about FirstBoomers. I have experienced a lot in my life and, as a journalist, I wrote just about all of it down. Stay tuned.
Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.