By BILL YEE
I remember as a young teen playing basketball on our local playground with a couple of older gentlemen who were probably in their late 40s, early 50s. My buddies and I commented and laughed at how clumsy they looked shooting baskets.
Well, I woke up one day and those guys I laughed at at the playground are me!
The gray hairs expose me. A fact that I can no longer deny is that I am in the winter of my life.
Baby Boomers are now replacing our parents, “The Great Generation,” as the old folks. The oldest boomer was born in 1946 and is now 76, the youngest born in 1964 is 58!
I am part of the grandparents’ generation even if we don’t have grandkids. What a realization when did it happen! I am old!
More often than not I have heard from friends that “Getting old sucks!” My father-in-law, after he turned 80, said with each birthday, “I can’t believe I lived this long!” With an admonition, “Don’t get old!” Another one is “Getting old is not for the weak.”
Recently my five Berkeley roommates got together to celebrate a 70th birthday. We are all approaching the big 7-0. He is the third member of our group turning 70.
In our apartment at Cal we talked about girls, whether a class was easy or hard, what kind of profession or job we hoped for after graduation or whether we were going to that party or club for the weekend.
Our conversations now focus on the reasons for so many doctor visits, grandkids (only one of us has grandkids) or why our kids are not married.
For example, all of us have had health issues from cancer to heart attacks and in my case open-heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.
We also recount old memories, past glories, and of course query about what happened to so-and-so. Didn’t know he/she died a few years back or is now divorced.
Of course, our conversations turn to our investments, IRAs or 401Ks and whether we have living trusts.
So how does one age gracefully? Does one really age gracefully?
I’ve been reluctant to join AARP but taking Medicare and Social Security makes me a prime candidate.
Here are a few observations about being old.
If you are an anthropologist there is a subculture of the elderly. We gather at doughnut shops or McDonald’s in groups to drink cheap coffee and relive old memories. I’ve done that a few times with my older brother in San Francisco.
In attending the recent wedding of my niece, when the dancing started I did not recognize a single song. What a sad realization that popular culture has left me behind!
I find myself scheduling my life around doctor visits. I take so many pills that forgetting is not a good thing, so I have the daily pill box!
I’m the guy driving slow in the fast lane… that I used to get mad at and mentally curse as I drove the kids to school.
The other negative of growing old is that your friends begin to pass away. This year I have attended too many memorials of friends and family.
Part of growing old is accepting our limitations. We may think that we can do the same things as our younger selves, but unlike the song we are not “Forever Young”! It’s a hard concept to adapt to. In my mind I am still 26 but the body is 70!
Finally, I don’t understand tattoos. Used to be drunken sailors got tattoos; now every young person has one! I also don’t understand the attraction to rap music! These are my “Get off my lawn!” observations.
I guess growing old is not to relive past glories or dwell on past failures or lost opportunities but to appreciate what you have, enjoy good health, to treasure each day and hopefully make new, good memories.
Finally, as members of the “Baby Boom” generation, hopefully we did make a difference and bought some social change to American society.
Bill Yee is a retired Alhambra High School history teacher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.