Monday, November 11, 2013

Not Finished With The Years Left

There are more years behind me than in front of me.

My daddy used to say that to me all the time and I would always refute it with, "no daddy, you will live forever."

He didn't.

He was just 69 years, 6 months old when spirit left clay and he could no longer call me "Taye" and flash that dimpled smile, hug me close to him, his height and girth protecting me from all harm.

I am 49 years young and am hearing my father's words in my mind.

There are more years behind me than in front of me and I am wondering about those that are left.

I have experienced ageism, most recently in a 57-day long consulting gig that was supposed to be longer, but my age and station in life proved to be too intimidating to the barely college graduated peers.  It was that encounter and others that has me thinking, am I, one of the last of the Baby Boomer generation, finished?

If left up to the republicans, no, we would work  until our feeble knees buckle and we are kissing the grave, thereby unable to draw on the Social Security we have paid into our entire lives.  Or if left up to the commercials and television shows that seem to think that anyone over thirty is irrelevant.  In one of the training sessions they talked about and showed the polls of those who thought the older workers were just not with it.  That was in the 1960s with the Baby Boomer I's entering the work place with values vastly different than their war veteran older peers.  Nothing new under the sun.

I am not a grandmother yet, my older sons haven't reached that point in their lives, Millennials who are still finding their way in an economic jobless recovery that left many of their generation behind without a vision for the home and picket fence - maybe they know we were all sold a bill of goods.  The older sons are still establishing themselves and wisely waiting, despite my inner cries to hold the next generation in my arms.

My daughters are the ones who will journey with me through this next decade, these next ten years of living.  They are class of 2020 and 2022, respectively.  I will not be the oldest parent at their graduations as the trend over their generation was that their mothers were older when starting families.  That gives me hope that these grays in my hair will be respected by then?  Or will they think we are still not with it enough to make a difference?

There are some professions that appreciate the wisdom and knowledge that comes with the turning of the calendar.  Writing, singing, painting, for instance, all seem to appreciate the ones who have spent time learning their craft and perfecting it.  Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni - giants of my avocation who are still making literary differences.  Dr. Angelou is in the decades of my elderly aunt and late father.

The inner me that speaks when I write or when I am thinking to myself about the years gone by, is the same voice of myself I heard when I was ten or twelve or twenty.  How is that possible?  Do we still dream of new possibilities even as one decade turns to another?

American culture is youth obsessed to the point of being neurotic.  Our culture, collectively, does not appreciate the wisdom, sacrifice, and knowledge that is gleaned from a wrinkle here or a gray hair there.  We tend to speak in elementary sentences and raise the decibel of our timbre whenever we are in the company of those feeble with time.  Do we not remember that they opened the doors and paved the way for the former us to walk through, that we once stood on their shoulders when we were too whobbly in our own stance to stand up for change?  Those rights we have so taken for granted came from those now in wheel chairs and graying hairs, failing health, and rewound memory.  Am I right in the middle, one generation turning over to another, am I to do as the American commercials suggest and nip and tuck, or simply get out of the way for the ones coming up?  Is there nothing left for me to do and contribute?

We respect Presidents who are in their 50s because we trust their wisdom gained by years of living.  Most of our elected officials are older than man and some of those crazy republicans up in D.C. legislating my daughter's body are older than dirt, kissing the grave, and still whobbling around making demands of our liberties.  Are they more able to contribute than myself and others of my generation who are told we are too set in our ways to enter the doors of corporate america again?

More years behind me than in front of me has me thinking a lot about the years gone and the years to come.


It really is precious.

And once it is gone, like being a virgin...

is gone forever, never to be replenished or renewed or restored.

The clock ticks, ticks, ticks, and the calendar pages turn.

And I am not finished yet.

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