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You've got competition! Soccer Grandmas and Grandpas are lining the sidelines at every game and their numbers are growing. And if you think parents of soccer kids are obnoxious, overbearing and over exuberant, you ain't seen nothin' unless you've seen Soccer Grams. I speak from personal experience. I am a proud Soccer Gram, complete with pom poms and racing sneakers (no one sprints the line like I do).
What a difference between my first trip to "the continent" 16 years ago and my trip to Italy a few months ago. Alas, I'm getting older; at least that's what my body tells me when it fails to regulate itself and I am forced to go in search of a farmacia to remedy the problem. I guess I thought I would have the same energy as days gone by and certainly had a rude awakening. There I was, an antiquity among antiquities.
There is nothing cute about caregiving. It is the number- reason for work loss in today's economy, representing billions of dollars in lost time and wages. The typical caregiver is a 46-year-old Baby Boomer woman with some college education who works and spends more than 20 hours per week caring for her mother who lives nearby. According to a recent study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, it was found that there are 44.4 million Americans age 18 and older providing unpaid care to an adult, with the average length of caregiving being 4.3 years.
I'm so tired of all the "bah humbug" that goes on this time of year. Enough about the materialism of Christmas; it's a reality, but doesn't have to necessarily interfere with the way we choose to celebrate. The nicest thing about aging (yes, it does have its benefits) is that we have so much of the past to draw upon. Here are some memories and wisdom I've accumulated through the years. You don't have to have a lot to give a lot. Dad was in school under the GI Bill and graduated when I was 4. Mom used all of her talents as a former home economics teacher to make aprons, placemats and the like out of flour sacks. Back then, flour came in printed cotton bags that served multiple uses.
I could have entitled this "The Art of Doing Nothing," but it's too structured and too precise. Doin' nuthin' is just that; it's like the feeling that comes with reading, "Huck Finn floatin' down the lazy meandering river, doin' nuthin'." See what I mean? There have been volumes written on relaxation. In today's society filled with hustle and bustle, it's approaching an art form. Most of us don't tune out the world and just relax. It's not because we don't want to, but that we have lost the ability to zone out and totally rest.
At least once a week a well meaning friend sends me an e-mail on aging. It's bad enough I have to look at the ravages of aging every morning when I brush my teeth, let alone when I open my e-mail. I'm comforted by the thought that I'm not alone and that many of these vignettes are quite humorous, so I thought I would compile some of my favorites to share. Sit back, relax and let's take a trip down memory lane as we update some of our favorite 45s.
I recently attended my 40th high school reunion. Yes, that's 4-0, as in four decades since . About 45 of the 102 in our graduating class showed up and what an incredible time we had! I grew up in a small college town in northern New York - that's way northern, 30 miles from the St. Lawrence Seaway. We had winter eight months out of the year and spring, summer and fall the other four. The town looks like a Norman Rockwell painting and our youth had the makings for an Oscar Wilde play.
A very wise person once wrote that, "Change is inevitable except in vending machines." I now find myself in the throes of divorce (thus the name change) and have begun venturing out into the world of single boomers. Not surprisingly, I am in the company of multitudes. There are millions of people over 50 who are either widowed or divorced. Fifty years ago, being a single woman was commonly considered to be a death sentence; the poor soul was doomed to a life of spinsterhood after their husband died or (gasp) divorce occurred. Women generally didn't remarry.
Guilt... it's the gift that keeps on giving. I was born with a mutant gene; the guilt gene. I used to think that it was just a Jewish/Italian/Catholic thing, but the more friends I talk to, the more I realize it's widespread among the Depression Babies. My mom remembers the depression as many of your parents do. It was a time of sacrifice and deprivation, living on next to nothing, but always making do. What little there was, was canned or cured and somehow there was always enough to eat and some to share with those less fortunate.
"Parade Magazine" recently ran an article on the quagmire many us face: What is the proper "name" for the stage of life so many of us 50-and-up find ourselves in? Personally, I think of myself as a Gently Aging Baby Boomer, kind of like a gently-used car. I chuckled at the new names and acronyms that many of the readers came up with, like Boomerangs, Recycled Teenagers, OWLS (Older, Wiser, Livelier Souls) and one of my favorites: APAL (Aging Persons with Active Lifestyles). Spare me the depressing labels please. The best one I found for the age period between 60 and 80 is Prime Time.
I watch enough television to occasionally get caught up in hype, and is there a better word to describe the Olympics, "Dancing with the Stars," and, of course, the Oscars? I think not.
I've decided that if I have a choice as to what I'll be in my next life, I'm going to come back as an animal. At first I thought I'd want to be a bear. After all, bears eat themselves silly before they hibernate. They give birth to their children who are born the size of walnuts during six months of sleep and awake to partially grown, cute and cuddly cubs. Now, I can definitely do that.
Would someone please tell me what's going on with big boys, their toys and the all-so-obvious-to everyone-but-them midlife crises? It's almost as if a testosterone-driven biological time clock alarm goes off as men approach their 50s and beyond. The story is so often the same, and tragically stereotypical. The kids are grown and have (finally) left the house, and while mom may be pining away for her babies, dad's arranging for the family SUV to be traded in for a fast sports car. Don't they know that their shiny bald spot looks silly glaring out of the top of their convertible?
Downsizing. No, I'm not talking about dieting, but about down sizing - getting rid of so much of the "stuff" we accumulate throughout the years. I have visited many clients' homes and am constantly amazed by the different collections of magnificent Japanese Imari plates, priceless antiques and porcelains These are far outnumbered by the collections of Bradford and Franklin Mint plates lining walls, teddy bears of all shapes and sizes, roosters, dolls, copper plates and well, you get the (rather cluttered) picture.
Fibromyalgia is an ugly syndrome with a variety of symptoms including severe fatigue, chronic pain, memory problems, irritable bowel, sleep disorders, headaches and lack of energy. Wow, that was a mouthful, and people still live through and with it! I read somewhere that many of Dr. Kevorkian's patients had Fibromyalgia Syndrome, which doesn't thrill me since I've had the diagnosis for over two years, and the syndrome for over seven that I can remember. I did say memory problems, didn't I? To help you relate, think back to the last time you had a bad flu - every muscle in your body shouted out in pain and you had absolutely no energy.
Or is it just me? The "good old days" become much more meaningful as I try in vain to maintain some vestige of youth. I grew up in a small town in Northern New York State, very close to Canada. Winter was eight months of the year and spring, summer and fall shared the other four.
Ok, so maybe there's a wee bit of wishful thinking tied up in this article's title... However, I've got to believe that as we age, the would-of, could-of, should-of, 20-20 hindsight thing becomes much more pronounced. Perhaps this is precipitated by the fact that when we're over 50 we realize we are no longer immortal - this is not a dress rehearsal!
No, this monthly musing is not about divorce, nor is it about death, although they are all related. The Big D is depression, a condition that is still coming out of the closet. We've all been down in the dumps, but how many of us are suffering from depression?
It was at my son Michael's 30th birthday party that he and his wife Rhonda announced that they were expecting their first child. It was a moment frozen in time, one of absolute delight and sheer horror. How could I be a grandmother? I was only 52!
I received a dramatic phone call from my husband a few years back. He was at work, had bent over and sneezed, couldn't straighten up and was on his way to the hospital for an MRI. Sound familiar? If you're over 50 chances are you know someone this has had a similar experience. It's just another wonderful benefit of aging. The disks in our vertebrae begin to lose their viscosity and all of a sudden, you have a slipped or bulging disk. Well, fellow Boomers, here are the facts. Low back pain disables 5 million people in the U.S. and forces people to lose 93 million work days each year.
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