As I slid into my 60th birthday, I looked for information on aging gracefully, and was told by a book seller “there’s not much out here for baby boomers.” This decade took on many challenges, and I needed information and practical wisdom to guide my path. Since I was a young woman, I have practiced cultivating the “quiet place” with the Lord and listening to His soft whispers. In these times of quiet reflection, I have received relevant guidance about life at this juncture which has made the journey more successful, but a book that addresses specifics about the joys and challenges about growing old would be useful, not only for me, but for a generation of baby boomers. Many of us would agree that this autumn season of life is full of rich blessing, great joy and contentment of a life well-lived; however, to be honest, we must admit we are in uncharted waters.
The purpose of us sharing thoughts, ideas, fears, joys, and our concerns is to gather information that would be useful for all of us, but maybe for millions of baby boomers who might be wandering around wondering “what’s next!” Our “class project” may end up becoming a best seller that could be a blessing to many.
I invite you to participate and have conversation online with us through my blog site. To give some structure to our dialogue, I will post a blog about a certain topic and ask a question that will be a springboard for discussion. I will collect content for our “book” as conversation progresses. Here are some thoughts that might be helpful:
- If anyone wants to write “their story” and keep it private, they can send it to me through email as an attachment. You should have my email address or you can find it easily on the blog site.
- We will discuss cognitive, personality, social, physical, and spiritual issues. The more we are honest about our journey the more information we can gain about the aging process.
- The writing process evolves as we move forward, so we will watch something creative and beautiful emerge. Always feel free to give ideas and thoughts on how we can proceed together on this new adventure—“class project.”
- Even though there are many challenges to growing old, we can keep our conversation positive and productive and focus on the joys as well as the realities of aging.
I am excited to engage in this effort with all of you. Let’s begin by encouraging friends to get involved and discussing our first question. Click on the comment button on the blog site and off we go!!!!
Make general comments about how you feel about participating in a “baby boomer” project for possible publication of a book. Our first question is “What are your greatest joys in this season of life?”
Ok, I will see you online!
John Jones says
Thanks, Brenda, for this great idea of writing a book as a class via blog.
Dr. Brenda Rambo says
John, I think we are off and running. Peggy was able to post without difficulty, so now all we need are more posts from our class. I will post some thoughts about what is great about this season of life for me and my family. Just as all of us have worked hard most of our lives, it is great to have the freedom to not work if I don’t want to. There are so many more choices at this age than when we were young. Most of us were paying off mortgages, saving for college education for children, and living the daily grind, and trying to find joy, peace and gratefulness in the middle of the stress of life. Stress is not something I experience on a daily basis. I have never lived at a time when I have so much peace and tranquility. I sense the Lord’s Presence in a marvelous way, I have a beautiful daughter and three grandsons that give me inexpressible joy, a loving husband, and God has put my boundaries in beautiful places. So for a beginning, this is where I am at this beautiful autumn season of life.
Brenda Rambo says
John, should I continue with this? Do you think there is enough interest? The responses I have received have been great.
Peggy Painter Kendall says
I guess my greatest joy at this time of my life in one word would have to be freedom; freedom from guilt because I’m no longer responsible for everyone else’s happiness, a job I gave to myself. Don’t get me wrong. My 2 sons and grandchildren have always been my greatest accomplishment and still are but they live in Missouri and Indiana and my life goes on.
That being said, my days are FREE, free to paint or sketch, weave, or any of my other hobbies. I’m free to lunch or travel with great friends I’ve made along the way. I live in Chattanooga, too far from my sisters for me to drive alone because of my vision. Luckily I get to spend my life with the most wonderful, supportive husband ever. if i’m not in the mood to cook or clean, i’m free not to. Does life get any sweeter than that? I don’t think so.
After 16 1/2 years of chronic back pain every minute of every day, last Wednesday I had the last surgery that could be done and the results are amazing. The future looks even brighter. I’m planning on taking some art classes and I’m already making plans (in my mind) to start exercising in a few weeks. In spite of all that, nobody has been more blessed than I have been for my lifetime. You may not remember but even in school I was always different because I couldn’t go up and down the stairs because of heart issues I had even then. I never told anybody what my problem was because that would make me even more different. I have been blessed with a great family and a Heavenly Father that brought me through it all. We have a great church family and we girls are going to start having lunch once a month now just because I can.
Life is so sweet!!
Dr. Brenda Rambo says
Peggy, what a great post! I am thrilled to hear about your gratefulness and freedom you are enjoying in this season of life. Even though it seems like life has not been without pain, you still have a marvelous attitude. So glad your surgery was successful last week. Maybe it will afford you even more freedom and mobility. Thank you so much for your participation. It is really cool that we can be all over the country and stay connected and talk about aging together as a class.
Myrtle B Draper says
Brenda, I am grateful to be reacquainted with childhood friends! What a blessing the last year has been! I have been very lucky in my lifetime and have experienced some wonderful miracles and encounters with angels. After 68 years we have all come through some good and bad times. It is my belief that these trials either scar you or make you stronger and wiser. Hopefully I am in the second group! Minimal health issues, healthy, successful children and grandchildren, and the ability to travel around the world with my best friend are my greatest blessings. I must also mention my close knit Sunday School class who is my safety net! I don’t know how I would have survived without them! I hope this isn’t too rambling and I am sure I will think of a dozen other things after I end. I try to wake up everyday with a heart full of thankfulness and think “it’s a great day to be alive!”
Dr. Brenda Rambo says
Myrtle, it has been fantastic to become reacquainted. I loved spending time with you over our very long lunch in June. How fun was that??? I loved your story about your encounter with the angel at the time of your almost near death car accident. Would you be willing to share that story for all of your classmates to hear. To enjoy our health is such a rich blessing, because it can disappear in a literal heartbeat. I think I become more grateful with every passing day for every good thing in my life. Rambling posts are sometimes the most powerful, so everyone is welcome to ramble as much as you like. I hope soon lots of folks will be hopping on line and sharing their thoughts.
Kay Bartley says
Brenda, I have been in a “thinking period” before commenting on your first prompt concerning what brings us joy at this time in our lives. I’m sure many other thoughts will come to mind as we continue in this process, but here is my first installment concerning JOY.
Joy comes in realizing that my most important life’s work, rearing my children, was a success. My adult children are good people- educated, successful, competent, independent. They both continue to seek the Lord in their lives, follow the values they were taught at home and are caring, giving people. Pure joy is now the result of our choice as parents to live on one income, say NO more than yes, provide consistent guidance, discipline and unswerving love. Child rearing is hard work! Joy comes when you see the fruit of your labors blossom into fruition.
Another joy at this time of my life is that of having wisdom and insight born of experiencing life–the ups, the downs, the mistakes, the happiness, the hardships. Life’s experiences give us the chance to grow and change. I don’t think that stops now, as we are aging, but I do think it has afforded us an enhanced perspective that we would not have without the life experiences we have had thus far.
Financial security also provides joy at this time in my life. I can work at whatever I love, or not work at all, with no fear that our livelihood is going to be greatly impacted one way or another. My husband has been a faithful provider for our family, but the “grandmother philosophy” of handling money that was taught by example by my mother, was a lesson I learned early in life and am grateful for. I hope I shared this with my children! At this season in life, financial security reduces the stresses most of us felt while rearing our families, providing educations, and such.
Solid, non-assuming relationships provide another level of joy. I love being at a place in life where ‘we are who we are and have nothing to prove to anyone’ therefore, we have greater freedom in forming unpretentious relationships. Joy comes in the loving bond of my relationship with my husband of 48 years, the understanding, trust and solidity of my relationship with my children, and the fun, free relationships with friends and family.
Myrtle Draper says
Brenda, here is my angel story.. I have encountered many angels in my life and have been the recipient of many “God winks”! The one I recounted at our luncheon occurred on May 5, 2001 at about 3:00pm on S. Church St. in Murfreesboro. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was in our truck filled with my daughter’s dorm paraphernalia as she was moving back home for the summer. Traffic was heavy as I left yet another traffic light when I noticed an older car crossing the median headed straight for me. I had no place to go and he hit me head on at s high speed. Although covered in glass and trapped , adrenaline kicked in and I assumed I wAs fine! A fair skinned black man in a Hawaiian shirt came to the door and told me his name was Matthew, an off duty Emt , and he was going to get in the back seat and hold my neck until help arrived. I said that was fine but I thought I would be fine if I could just get out of the truck. My memory gets a little blurry at this point. The fire dept had to cut me out of the truck( I’m told it took over30 minutes) get the engine off my legs and feet, which were crushed and get me stabilized do they could life flight me to Vanderbilt trauma unit. I asked about Matt hew but nobody saw him and said there was no way anyone could have gotten into my crumpled truck. I know he was there and I thought of him many times as I went through surgery and many months of therapy for everything from brain injury to learning to walk again on my rebuilt foot and the rest of my battered body. I believe God put me there in that truck ( if I had been in my car I would have been killed instantly) so that I would have the joy of having an encounter with Matthew! I am grateful everyday that I can walk and think, and that my family has been so patient with me through this life changing event!
Dr. Brenda Rambo says
Myrtle, that is such a powerful story. I think it is interesting you have been the recipient of several angel encounters and “God winks.” What if Matthew has always been your guardian angel who has watched over you all of your life? Some people actually have an opportunity to “see” their guardian angel. Maybe if we believed in angelic encounters, we would all have more angelic visitations. I was shocked to hear about your life threatening accident and your near death experience this summer when several of us got together to have lunch. Makes me sad we lost touch throughout all the many years between graduation and our 50th class reunion.
Carolyne Noah Hutson Bobo says
Brenda, how rich it is to hear the thoughts of friends re-found., both in the blog and on the reunion website. What has been stunning this summer both from the mini-reunion in June and from the many comments on the website is the fullness of character, variety of life experiences, and wide range of gifts and talents of our classmates that was only hinted at back at CHS.
Looking back at our high school years, our little summer mini-reunion brought out the admission of the feeling that so many of us had then about being “less than, not smart enough, or pretty enough, or popular enough.” We were stunned with the same revelation from people that we had wanted to be as smart as, as pretty as, as popular as.
What impressed me in reading the posts on the reunion site (very sorry to be unable to attend the real reunion, too) is what varied, interesting, rich lives we all lived. There seems to be no divide as I felt when we were still in school. That feeling of “I never really belonged” seems to have been replaced by a huge recognition that we all belonged and still do belong to a very special time and place — and we still belong to each other.
I have had an overwhelming desire since the reunion website began to flourish to make a comment to the class. (I left CHS a year early. This was of major importance to me, but as Myrtle reminded me, not everybody even noticed I was gone.) I do want to say this to all who knew me or came in contact with me. I am aware of times when I said or did something that was hurtful or unkind. Some of those times were deliberate and others were just thoughtless. There were other times when some of you needed a word or action from me and I let you down. For all of this, I ask your forgiveness.
It has been a joy to hear your memories and to see your faces as I remember them as well as the beauty and maturity of your faces today. Your comments about your lives and the lives of our other classmates have been a rich blessing. As my memory is sometimes more of “forgettory,” it is delightful to hear you recount your memories as well as your stories about your lives since I knew you.
Dr. Brenda Rambo says
Carolyne, I could not agree more. Now we have no pretense about anything, and we can be who we are and not who we once pretended to be. I also was amazed at our mini-reunion in June when we learned how we all really felt when we were growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. How we felt about our selves and each other. As we read and share our thoughts and experiences, we discover our classmates have lived rich lives with diverse experiences, and we have been blessed beyond measure with lives well lived. Your heartfelt post is what I am looking for as we share our lives in a transparent way that opens a door of understanding into our generation and what life was like when we grew up, and our reflections of our past and hope for our future.
Dave Baker says
Who would think that 50 years ago some 58,000 young men and women would die in the Vietnam conflict? It is hard to believe that most all of us would look at it as 58,000 lives lost. Listening to some old music the other day I realized the memories of that time almost a lifetime ago would come alive. I started thinking of friends that lost their lives over there were part of that horrific number. I realized that I am probably as ordinary or average as they come concerning life’s ups and downs. I now have two Daughters and five Grandchildren. If I am average, that means that most of those 58,000 that lost their lives never had the opportunity to have children and grandchildren. Based on that ideology, that means currently almost 300,000 people never saw life because of that conflict. That number will grow exponentially as time passes thru generations that will never be until the end of time as we know it. None of that can ever be undone, but it is still something to think about. I am starting to believe that there actually is something called “survivor’s syndrome”. Although I had it good compared to most in Vietnam, I still wonder why things work out the way they do. I read somewhere long ago that the only people that deal with a war in their lifetime without regret are the people that actually die. The people that didn’t participate for whatever reason regret it over time. The people that went and survived regret the fact they didn’t do more for those that died. The relatives of those that died regret the loss of their loved ones. The only no regrets left are the ones that didn’t return. There is an old movie line that goes something like “No one actually wins a war, some just lose more than others.” The current generations are going to go thru the same thoughts from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will take some time, but the non-participants and participants will wonder about the same thoughts in the near future.
Your blog should include the problems of the 68 year old technically challenged individuals living and aging in a bit filled world. The world in which you now live; where you must post your every action to the world for comments; the world where every comment and thought must be published to either be praised or reviewed by you peers. This world we live in where a person cannot walk down the produce isle without posting comments about what makes your intestinal issues blossom. This world we live in where I would rather sit on my porch and drink coffee rather than interacting with friends using the currently accepted method of typing and waiting for a typed response. I say all that after having majored in Computer Science and working as well as teaching Computer Science for years. Half of everything I know became obsolete in my sleep and to tell you the truth I don’t know which half. Now at my age, I really don’t care because it is all obsolete as I would rather do it in person. Who said aging cannot produce wisdom?
Dr. Brenda Rambo says
David, thanks so much for your powerful comment about the lives lost during the Vietnam war and the lives saved. I had hoped the men in our class would post and talk about life-changing events in their lives, and certainly Vietnam was one of those. Your insight from living and surviving those hard days made you the man you are today. It formed and shaped you throughout the decades and gave you wisdom and understanding that comes only through fighting in a war. My World War II dad was transformed by the battles he fought in Europe starting on Normandy Beach and ending with the liberation of Germany and the concentration camps. He came home forever changed. Vietnam changed our generation of men–not only the men but our generation. Thank you for fighting in a long tough conflict. We are all grateful you did. I encourage you and other men to talk about your thoughts and insight into life. You bring something into our
conversation that is powerful.