2018 was a year for 50th anniversaries. Fifty years ago, in 1968, The Beatles gave us the White Album. The movies Funny Girl and 2001: A Space Odyssey were released. The rock musical Hair stunned audiences, me included. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and 60 Minutes premiered on television. The world lost Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Emergency 911 service started in the U.S. There was the first successful heart transplant and The Poor People’s March on Washington.
And… I graduated from High School – 50 years ago. My God, I must be a senior citizen! As a lawyer, I refuse to accept a conclusion without supporting facts. It is just not wise to make conclusions without facts as evidence. I had to think for a bit, but, I found the facts.
- Supporting Fact 1: That 1968 high school graduation.
- Fact 2: I don’t recognize most of the singers nominated for music awards, but I can still sing all of The Beatles’ songs.
- 3: MY music is being played in commercials and doctors’ offices.
- 4: I get into Amtrak’s senior citizen waiting area without showing an ID.
- 5: I get a lot of mail advertising hearing aids.
- 6: My doctor gave me a handout titled “How to Avoid Falls in the Home”.
- 7: Some of my friends are great-grandparents.
- And finally fact 8: I have hiking boots and a jacket that are the same age as Emily Boyer, morning host here at TSPR.
So, I accept the conclusion that I am a senior citizen. The benefits are many. I dress for comfort, not style. I say “No” to requests easily and without excuse or explanation. I don’t have mortgage payments. Younger people let me cut in front of them in the lift line when I’m skiing. They also automatically help me when I have cell phone or computer problems. I’ve grown out of most of my allergies.
Science tells me that my reasoning and problem-solving skills are sharper and that my life experience lets me see the “big picture” easier. I’ve learned some new skills and can say from personal experience that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. I’m a Baby Boomer, and companies are gearing goods and services to Boomers because we have a lot of buying power. Protests are easier because I’m fighting the same issues now that I did in 1968 and have already done the required research.
Sure, there are disadvantages. I have to remind myself not to start a sentence with “When I was your age…”. I haven’t seen the Times Square Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve for a number of years. I get mansplained more since I’m dressed for comfort, not professional appearance. I’ve got more aches and pains, but when I start feeling old, I visit my 101-year -old father and feel young again. Feeling old or young is relative.
Overall, I’ve got to agree with the studies that conclude senior citizens generally have higher self-esteem and an easier time accepting new ideas. Or maybe it’s that today’s new ideas are recycled ones, just like so many fashion trends.
For whichever holiday you celebrate this time of the year, I wish you kindness, happiness and peace.
Gayle Carper is a member of the Macomb City council and she’s a retired attorney and retired Professor of Law at Western Illinois University.
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University or Tri States Public Radio.
Diverse viewpoints are welcome and encouraged.