Remember the old and now politically incorrect adage, “If you want to know what your wife’s going to look like in twenty years, take a look at her mother.” Due a series of recent events in my life, I’ve now been confronted with what life as a Baby Boomer is going to look like in twenty years and it’s cause for concern and action. The result of all this introspection and reflection is the realization that as Boomers we truly only have a finite number of years left. The horizon is within sight. Some friends have already been lost due to accidents, illness or age-related conditions. We’ve recently attended six funerals in as many weeks, which has prompted us to dig out our wills and revisit the contents, as well as double-check our living will and power of attorney documents.
In twenty years, if we’re lucky, I will be eighty-eight and my honey will be ninety-three. According to current statistics, we may not even make it that far but Baby Boomers have always pushed the envelope and we’re not about to back off now. In the year 2035, we’ll both be using walkers and canes. Where will we be living? How many of our friends will still be around to watch old movies with us? Will we be able enough to still live in our own home/condo; will we be in assisted living? Or, worse, will we be drooling onto our chests, asleep in wheelchairs in the corridor of a nursing home?
Now is the time to start planning the rest of our lives. Boomers have already learned one important thing. Friends are absolutely essential and maintaining our relationships and social activities is a big factor in living successfully in the winter of our years. We’ve already started to circle our wagons, moving to smaller, more efficient homes within a twenty-minute drive of each other, in the Greater Toronto Area so we’ll be close to hospitals, doctors and treatment centres for our future ailments. When we can no longer make the drive, perhaps we’ll all move into the same building so we can still get together for tea, or more likely, bottles of wine. We’re now taking trips and crossing things off our bucket list before it’s too late. When we go, we plan on being happy, satisfied, depleted and broke.
Our lives are a celebration of what we’ve done, the contributions we’ve made, the fun we’ve had and a reminder to use the time we have to put in place whatever mechanisms are necessary to keep us living the lifestyle we want without encumbering our families. Most of us are finding our retirement years are the happiest of our entire lives. We’re now doing what we never before had the time or money to do.
Frank Sinatra’s It Was A Very Good Year always brings a lump to my throat. It’s my favourite of all his music because it so eloquently sums up our lives. Being born a Baby Boomer has gifted us with a series of events and experiences that resembled nothing before in history or since. Our generation will also be redefining retirement and end-of-life issues. In discussions with friends about wills, burials and other subjects, we’re already bringing a new perspective to the subject. Our generation’s spiritual beliefs have led to “celebrations of life” and cremations are now the norm. Where do you want your ashes scattered? Over a golf course? At the mall? On a tennis court? In the lake at the cottage? Perhaps all of these. Who cares? The late singer Rita McNeil requested that her ashes be interred in a teapot—or two if necessary. I have a preference for mine being packed up inside the lovely Louis Vuitton handbag that was given to me when I retired. I’ve told my husband there’s probably room for him in there too, as well as the golf ball from his long-ago hole-in-one and the ashes of each of our dogs. That way we’ll all be together, we’ll keep each other company; the dogs will love chasing the golf ball and we’ll have a smile on our faces.
Every day is a gift and we have a degree of control over how we chose to live it. As Bob Dylan said so eloquently, “you better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone, For the times they are a-changin'”. In twenty years, I hope we’re still looking at life as “fine old wine, from the brim to the dregs.”. My side of our shared tombstone will be inscribed with those prophetic words once uttered by my friend Terry: “At last, she’s quit complaining about her hair.” If that’s not something worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.
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