This week begins the string of birthday celebrations in our family. With hubby, kids, in-laws, cousins, siblings, grand-nieces and a grand-nephew, I've lost count of how many will be celebrating their special day from March 29 through the 12th of April. We always remember the 12th because it was our dad's birthday. He would be 91 if he were still alive.
We always grinch about those birthdays that line up in the multiples cuz it's hard to keep up with them all. I know the other side of this grinching too because mine falls within a busy batch of milestones in our family also. Somehow, though, we get through them every year, and everyone just keeps getting older.
What's really getting to me, however, is picking up the paper each morning and reading the obituaries. There's a danger in living in one's hometown forever because when you get older, you recognize too many names. I can remember my friend Helen making this statement at a forum several years ago when she noted that she was sure spending a lot more time attending funerals. That hasn't changed because a couple of weeks ago she told me she had attended three in three days.
In my case, I don't attend a lot of funerals, but I still feel the pain each time another name appears in the paper and a generation of my elders continues to dwindle. Lately, in too many cases, names haven't even come from that demographic group of seniors: many have been younger than I. I guess there's a double whammy when one teaches more than three decades worth of community citizens. They're dying also.
The other night I watched a PBS documentary on the era of the Baby Boomers of which I'm one of the millions. As various segments focused on the civil rights struggle, the Kennedy Assassination, the Vietnam War, the changes in music, the development of the computer age, and the vastly different role women have taken on in the professional world, I had the feeling that this program was signaling the sunset for another generation---my own.
It seemed like the program's producers were beginning the process of pushing our generation aside by tying together the events that have defined us, wrapping up our loose ends and packaging us for historical storage.
Not just yet, I thought.
We certainly have more to accomplish of a positive nature before Hollywood writes us off as yet another era of the past. Then, I thought about the folks in The Greatest Generation and how we may have a long ways to go before we earn the esteem they have enjoyed ever since World War II. And, they're almost gone. The focus is on us Boomers.
All these almost daily reminders of mortality in the local paper set an urgency to our lives. What have we done, and what have we failed to do? When we celebrate birthdays of any age, we celebrate the ongoing motion of a human being. The mindset is that there's still more to come, and who knows what can be accomplished or experienced in the continuing journey of each individual's life.
When we read of deaths of those we know, however, and read of it more often than ever, we not only consider the finality of that person's stay here on earth, but we also look in the mirror, knowing that our own time will come. And, as we keep flinching from those frequent reminders in the obituary column, there's a continual taking stock of how we're using this gift called Life.
In my mind, there always comes a resounding answer----use it well.