“It was fifty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play….”
No – if my memory serves correct, the lyrics are, it was twenty years ago today.
You know you’re getting older when the Beatles are considered senior’s music and many younger people don’t even know who they are. One youngster upon hearing an early Paul McCartney track remarked that he thought the singer would go far. If you haven’t seen the cute British movie, Yesterday, it’s based on the same premise – a world where no one knows the Beatles music. (Aside – British actors must get annoyed when every lead role goes to the lovely Lily James.)
I recently turned old enough that the government is now sending me money – along with an information package that I’m now eligible for free drugs and pneumococcal and shingles vaccines and reminders to get routine tests done so I don’t become a drain on the heath care system someday. I’m right smack in the middle of the baby boomers, and the problem with my generation is that there are so many of us.
I came across this list in a magazine geared to boomers the other day, and yes, we are still a marketing demographic.
Suddenly I’m fifteen again in the kitchen of our old farmhouse waiting for the bus, with the radio tuned to the local FM station. It’s 7:30 and I’m wearing a mini-skirt and trying to grab a few bites of breakfast with the smell of perked coffee in the air. I’m sure my mother sat down and enjoyed a cup when we were all out the door and peace and quiet reigned once more. Maybe she changed the station to some easy-listening music.
The bus stopped frequently as practically every farm had kids and my brother playing lookout at the window could see the flashing lights down the road, thus giving me a few extra minutes to gather my books and fringed suede purse, (all the rage then.) The bus picked up students for six different high schools in town so it was crowded. (Did I mention there were so many of us?) As we were the last ones on we often had to sit three to a seat, and someone from another school would reluctantly move over to make room, but the advantage to being scrunched in like sardines near the front, was close proximity to the bus-driver’s radio and more top ten hits. I got in at least an hour of music a day that way. (A few years later when I was in my senior year, the peak had thinned out and there were empty seats. Now there are only three high schools left.)
Even though we lived in the country, we weren’t country music fans, unless you counted cross over artists like Anne Murray, Kenny Rogers and Crystal Gayle, so the only one I recognize from the country list is Charley Pride – Kiss an Angel Good Morning, but I know every one of the top ten billboard hits.
Of the movie list, I only remember seeing Billy Jack (with my cousin) and Fiddler on the Roof (my mother’s choice), both rather forgettable, other than perhaps one memorable song each. We didn’t have the money or the wheels to go to the show very often. I think Love Story was out that year too, a more popular film for teens, but not all movies were good, then and now.
We might have had better music but would I want to be that age again – no! Too much homework, and not enough money.
Many of my fellow boomers are retiring. My dentist recently retired and when his millennial-aged children took over the practice, the first thing to go was the oldies-but-goodies radio station. During my last checkup I heard Spirit in the Sky for the first time in decades, (possibly not the best soundtrack for a root canal.) Now it’s some variation of that horrible rap music. I turned the radio on the other day and heard this snippet of a lyric, “I held your hair back when you were throwing up.” Now, there’s a romantic visual. Contrast that to “Well, she was just seventeen, and you know what I mean…” Not that all those hits on the list were great though – Knock Three Times on the Ceiling was pure cheese – the same thing could be easily handled today by a text message.
My financial adviser recently retired – I’ve been with him since I was 32 and took an “Investing in the 80’s” evening course he taught at the local community college. We had a meet and greet to introduce me to his much younger replacement, and I swear we both had tears in our eyes reminiscing about old times and 12% interest rates and that $150 dot.com stock I once sold for $10. I only saw him once a year at RRSP time, but he was someone you could count on for wise advice, well except for that one stock whose name escapes me, although it caused much angst at the time. Now I have to start all over again with someone else. The same with my doctor, my accountant, my hairdresser. I’m already on Lawyer Number Three. The previous two died young, and as the replacement is the same age, I’m worried. You see all that expertise and work ethic walk out the door, and it can be unnerving having to adjust to someone new, whatever their age.
That’s the other thing about being in your sixties. People YOUR OWN AGE start to die on you – cousins, work colleagues, the spouses of friends. You start to read the obituaries online. I lost a work colleague last week, a kind soul who always used to call me SISTER, and I felt incredibly sad that I hadn’t gone to visit her, hadn’t even known she was that sick.
I remember the head nurse of chronic care once saying that the key to a successful old age, was being able to adjust to change and loss. No wonder they say, “old age isn’t for sissies” but really what is the alternative? Another approach is accepting the limitations that come with age, not necessarily giving up but pursuing more realistic and meaningful goals. I won’t be backpacking in Europe anytime soon, but I might still become a rich and famous novelist and rent a villa in Tuscany and invite all of my blogging friends…..
It also helps to have a passion in life, a sound mind and good health. It’s hard to enjoy yourself at any age if you are in constant pain or suffering from any of the many indignities of growing older – bad knees, hips, cataracts, etc….many of them fixable, but reminders all the same.
Now that I’m officially “young-old” my mother must be “old-old” although she has never really seemed her age. She has certainly been an inspiration when it comes to aging (she built a new house at 72, took up painting at 87 and has had several solo exhibits) but somehow I doubt if I’ll see her age. I have more of my dad’s genes, hence the need to start taking better care of myself. (You might have noticed there have been no baking blogs lately…..maybe next week)
If there’s one thing that scared me when reading Keep Sharp – Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s new book about building a better brain, it’s that our habits in middle age (good or bad) help determine how we will live our old age. Number one was exercise. Some people were motivated to make positive changes during the pandemic, others waited it out like hibernating-couch-potato-sloths addicted to multiple streaming services. I recently signed up for Netflix – the last Canadian holdout – as I figure it’s going to be another long winter ahead.
If anything I think the pandemic has aged us all to some extent. We stay home more, get more sleep, take afternoon naps, watch more TV, have tea and toast or Meals on Wheels/Door Dash delivered when we’re sick of cooking and fill our days with errands and appointments to minimize exposure……plus scan the flyers for bargains as food costs soar! I’m sure I’ll be taking up bird-watching any day now – seriously, I have three sets of binoculars and this is on my Bucket list for next year. If old age is for the birds, I want to see them!
Apparently albums are back in style again for music connoisseurs, so I’m thinking I might pull some of those old records out of the basement and crank up the stereo (Pioneer with vintage 70’s turntable – make me an offer) and listen to some Carly Simon if “it’s not too late.” Let the Music Play!
PS. A neighbor of mine lived to be a vibrant 105, but she was always young at heart…