Conversations with Mom: An Aging Baby Boomer, in Need of an Elder

We guess we’re all at an age where reflection comes naturally. The youngest baby boomer is 48, which means more than one stage of life has been lived. Betsy Robinson is in that position, looking back at what she’s done and looking forward to what’s ahead. That’s what she writes about in her book, Conversations with Mom: An Aging Baby Boomer, in Need of an Elder, Writes to Her Dead Mother. In this excerpt for BoomerCafé, Betsy writes a letter to her mother, expressing her concerns.

Dear Mom,

Betsy Robinson with her dogs.

Betsy Robinson with her dogs.

All the people you see on TV seem to be doing such important things: fighting wars, trying to stop wars, reconstructing deformed children, singing their hearts out to become the idol of millions and then do good things with all the money they make. I’m sixty years old and I worry that I’ve failed life. Your wise advice would be much appreciated. And by the way, what the hell are you doing with yourself these days?
Love, B

* * *

Dearest Pumpkin Head,

You have had an adventurous life, my dear. You’ve held more jobs than most people do in many lifetimes, you explored the world in your twenties and thirties, explored yourself in your forties and fifties, and now it has gotten quiet. But quiet doesn’t mean nothing is happening or that you offer no value.

Mom front coverToday on your way home from the park, you ran into an old friend. She was heading to work, but she spoke to you for a long time. Do you know why? Because seeing you lifted her. Because your unbridled admiration made her feel a little better, and when she arrived at work, she was joyful.
When you got home, you received an email from an organization recruiting women for cancer research. It said this year 243,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, and theywant to understand genetic risk factors. You will do the study. You will beanonymous. You will forget you ever participated, but you will contribute to the prevention of this disease.

On your next dog walk, you may run into that old man with the pit bull, Dewdrop. You may casually mention that you saw Dewdrop’s picture in a new book about dogs in Central Park, and that old guy may have a silent explosion because yesterday Dewdrop was diagnosed with metastasized pancreatic cancer. He may buy the book, and a year from now when he’s alone in bed, feeling as if his heart has been torn out of his body, he may open the book, look at Dewdrop, and feel as if she left a legacy.

Your legacy is none of your business. Your business is to keep living and not concern yourself with that which is none of your business.

What I’m doing these days is talking to you, my dear but neurotic daughter.

Love, Mumsy

Connect with Betsy online.


  1. And unusual theme, even if conversations with one’s dead mother sound, at first glance, a little depressing. But they’re masterfully handled, escaping the gloom…I think that’s one obvious characteristic of this new genre, boomer literature: it (usually) gracefully avoids tragedy and keeps to the sunny side of the street! That’s something boomers did well when they were young, and they still do it well…

    Have a Merry Boomer Christmas, and congrats Betsy, for what looks like an unusual, attractive book!

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