BOOMERBROADcast

Essays, rants and reflections on life after sixty for baby boomers who rocked life in THE sixties. And lots of book reviews too.


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Are our senior citizens really OK?


The other day I posted a book review that included a condemnation of our tendency to judge people without knowing their background story. In fact, my entire blog is a form of judgement. I did it again this week, at the grocery store. I’ll give you the details and let you be the judge.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for fresh local produce. Does everyone have access?

It’s harvest season in Ontario, the season for juicy, fresh beefsteak tomatoes, peaches and no end of wonderful local produce. Shoppers are checking out with bushels of Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and fruit for preserving. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year for fresh food.

As I was standing in the produce section husking corn into a giant bin in the middle of the floor, a small, very elderly, very frail gentleman approached. He was probably in his nineties and his face was sweet and kind looking. His grocery tote was a hand truck he’d brought with him with a single reuseable vinyl grocery bag propped open on the base. He was wearing worn, comfortable shoes and socks, a short-sleeved plaid shirt and beige shorts. His shorts were held up with striped suspenders and where one of the suspender’s clips was broken, he’d used a bit of twine to tie the suspenders to the belt loop of his shorts. This simple piece of twine touched my heart as it reminded me of how resourceful and practical his generation is—those who grew up in the Depression—so different from the obscene consumerism of subsequent generations.

For a few minutes I was transfixed as I watched this stooped gentleman pick three ears of corn and place them in his vinyl shopping bag. An Asian woman standing nearby helped him dig through the bin to find some nice ones. All of a sudden I found myself contemplating his entire back story in my imagination. Where did he live? Did he live alone? Did he drive himself here? Did he walk, pushing his hand truck? How does he manage in winter? Particularly in a large city it’s so easy for these vulnerable people to be forgotten.

Because he was buying groceries, he obviously does not live in an assisted living facility. Perhaps he lives in a nearby apartment or maybe he’s still living in the same little bungalow he bought in the 1950s and is unwilling to leave. Does he have children? Do they visit him and help him out? Is his wife still alive or did she pass a few years ago? Is he lonely? Does he need help? So many questions swirled around in my head for the few minutes I observed him.

I found myself thinking of my own father who is 92 and lives in the most wonderful assisted living residence I could imagine. He’s happy, healthy, well taken care of, still drives and is mentally as sharp as ever. His residence overlooks the Trent Canal in front and Ranney Falls on the Trent River behind the building. It’s an idyllic environment and he’s surrounded by kind, caring people and fellow residents he’s known for decades.

I worry about whether our vulnerable seniors are being cared for.

My dilemma concerns my judgement of the elderly man in the grocery store. My initial reaction to seeing this man was sadness. I found myself wishing he could be living carefree in a residence like my father’s. Then, he wouldn’t have to worry about grocery shopping, cooking meals, cleaning or even getting his clothes mended. But perhaps I’m wrong to cast judgement. Maybe he’s living the life he chooses, independent and busy with the simple rituals and routines of daily life. Perhaps my concern is misplaced and he’s happily living his best life. I wonder if and how my husband I will be coping when we’re in our nineties—which isn’t that far off anymore, and if we make it that far. Once again I found myself casting judgement on someone I knew nothing about, however, sympathetic my intentions. I’m still thinking about him, days later. I can’t get him out of my mind, wondering how he’s doing. Is he OK? Are they all OK?

 


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What’s the deal with selfies?


Mirror mirror on the wall . . . what the hell happened?

Mirror mirror on the wall . . . what the hell happened to us all?

The rest of the world must have a whole lot more self-confidence than I do or perhaps they’re just incredibly vain because I totally don’t get everyone’s preoccupation with taking pictures of themselves, a.k.a. selfies. I’ve tried it a couple of times and after seeing the results I needed trauma counselling. It’s one thing to look at yourself in the privacy of your own bathroom mirror but something else to see yourself how others do. Unfortunately, this aversion to selfies excludes me from a number of potential career and lifestyle choices:

  1. Girlfriend, wife or mistress of Prince Charles or Prince William.
  2. Prime Minister of Canada, Chancellor of Germany or Queen of England
  3. Fashion model or cover girl.
  4. Instagram sensation or celebrity of any kind

Fortunately I did not pursue any of these career paths and was graciously spared the constant high-definition scrutiny of paparazzi with telephoto lenses trained on me leaving Loblaws. However, this does not exclude me from being worried about the possibility of my picture turning up without my permission on Entertainment Tonight or the evening news, inadvertently photobombing someone who does earn their living from their looks. It’s a constant worry.

Is it because I just don't measure up that I choose to abstain?

Is it because I just don’t measure up that I choose to abstain?

It’s not easy being a baby boomer who was raised to be modest and told that it was shallow and vain to draw attention to one’s self. When we were still in our twenties and still sporting firm, flat tummies and long slim, wrinkle-free necks, we participated in the odd sassy group shot with our besties and perhaps a rare head-shot when the hairdresser had just given us the teased and sprayed hairdo of our dreams for a special event. Otherwise, we absolutely never turned the camera on ourselves.

It’s not recommended you pull a Justin Timberlake in the voting booth or you could wind up with a mug shot for your portfolio. And while I’m still recovering from the shock of seeing a picture of myself up close, I continue to marvel at those who snap selfies in front of Abercrombie & Fitsch or while chowing down on their lunch. Their fascination eludes me and you can be sure I will never again snap a selfie, at least not until I’ve totally mastered PhotoShop or finished therapy, which will probably be never.

Stay tuned Boomers.

We’re featuring a guest blogger in our next post—a genuine millennial

who appreciates what our generation has to offer.

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