We baby boomers are so much older now!

We love this story from writer Carol Viau of Waynesville, North Carolina — we love it, because any of us, any of you, could have written it. She sums it up with eight simple words: We baby boomers are so much older now!

On a summer walk at Lake Junaluska in western North Carolina, a young family passed me going in the other direction. I overheard the daughter, who looked to be about 9, say to her younger brother, “When you’re 45, you’ll be a lot older than you are now.”

Wow, I thought to myself. How about adding another 20 years to that — and you have millions of Baby Boomers who are now senior citizens.

How can this be? My 50th high school reunion is being planned for next summer. Fifty years? That’s absolutely shocking.

Time is flying by so fast, it’s hard to comprehend. Remember when summer seemed to go on forever? Now, as country star Kenny Chesney sings, “Don’t blink” — all the seasons are sailing by us at time-warp speed.

Carol and Paul Viau … celebrating life together.

Carol and Paul Viau … celebrating life together at age 45, a few years ago.

I posted a few childhood photos taken in the 1950s during “Throw Back Thursday” on Facebook. It made me think about how different it was back then. We couldn’t wait to go outdoors after school — we rode bicycles, climbed trees, and played Davy Crockett and Mickey Mouse Club. We walked to school unescorted by our parents. Think about that— we walked by ourselves and were not driven by parents.

Dinner back then was a family affair. We ate whatever our parents cooked and didn’t complain. The sad part about looking at the old photos is that the childhood pictures are starting to fade.

But our memories of the next decade, the tumultuous 1960s, are not fading — they are indelibly etched into our brains. High school was a mix of old-fashioned boys-and-girls-getting-to-know-each-other, which was then complicated by anexplosion of pop culture and music of the “British Invasion.”

Carol in 1968 assisting with the Senatorial campaign of Indiana's Birch Bayh (right).

Carol in 1968 assisting with the Senatorial campaign of Indiana’s Birch Bayh (right).

College was a reawakening of minds, personal freedom, and social activism. We marched to end the Vietnam War and we were certain we were going to change the world. “Must see TV” shows like Ed Sullivan made way for the raucous Laugh-In and the spellbinding lunar landing.

The 1970s and 1980s led us to careers, marriage for some/divorce for some and the birth of children. Enter the 1990s, and we could point to success in our careers or growth of our families— and a Baby Boomer became President of the United States.

The world changed with the dawn of the millennium. The USA was attacked. Parents started to pass away. Boomers became grandparents. We went through a worldwide recession, just as we were thinking about retirement nest eggs and the next stage in life.

Carol and Paul Viau today, vacationing in Hawaii.

Carol and Paul Viau today, vacationing in Hawaii.

Some had to go back to work; some took early retirement. But, we turned 60, and wondered what would be ahead for us. Several of our friends passed away, just short of being able to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

We rejoiced when we got our Medicare cards and couldn’t believe we were on Social Security. After 50 years of working, some, like me, retired. My husband and I have begun to travel in earnest— while we are still physically able to do so.

Now we are contemplating turning 70 in a few years and wondering what the Golden Years will hold in store for us.

So, here we are, folks. We are now “Elderheads,” as a young person called us at a Grateful Dead concert. How did this happen? In the blink of an eye…..

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  1. You could have been talking about the lives of my wife and me. Where have those days gone? You are so right, it feels like it was just yesterday, and those memories make us who we are today and who we will become tomorrow. Thank you for the memories.

  2. It’s all perspective.
    When I waw 10, a year was 1/10 of my life experience, and it took forever to get from one Christmas to the next.
    Now, I don’t have last Christmas paid for before the next one’s buying season is upon me!

  3. Thanks, Eric,
    We have lived in very interesting times, that’s for sure. Here’s to the fun, yet to come.

  4. Your story reads like it’s my life — Hey, wait a minute, it is my life. And the best part of it are the 25 years (rounded up) I have shared for you. Thanks for sharing our boomer story so beautifully.

  5. Carol:
    You nailed it with your quick trips through the decades. All of those decade renditions resonated with my life experiences. Funny you should mention the Garteful Dead since my first concert was 1968 and my last concert was 1995. On top of that, y’all are presently from Waynesville, NC which is where we are contemplating moving to when I finally hang up my spurs. A very good read and thanks for putting it out there.

      1. In re-reading my comments, I obviously meant Grateful Dead not “Garteful Dead”
        Oh well, my Boomer eyes even with my reading glasses missed it.
        Yes, Carol, we were in Waynesville, this past April and we both thought it may have everything we are looking for in terms of community etc.

        1. Alex, don’t sweat the typos. We all have “old eyes” at this stage! Yes, we moved from SFL to Waynesville 6 years ago to retire in this spot. We are so happy to be here in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains.

          1. SFL?…went to Delta Airlines and typed in SFL and it is an invalid location…so what does SFL stand for?…am mystified

  6. Oh, wow! Just yesterday I told my boys “Don’t Blink” as we watched their little ones scurrying about the backyard playing. And today forwarded your well-written and so true article. Thank you, Carol. Really hits home with this baby boomer! Hi, Paul!

  7. What a lovely essay, Sandra is right, I enjoyed it too – brought back so many memories and I enjoyed your photographs too – obviously, a very happy marriage and a satisfying life, well done! I’m sure you can look forward to many years of happy retirement…Though that is a word I hate, “retire-ment”, retire from what I ask you? From living life to the hilt? Never!

    1. Love your comment on “retire-ment.” That’s great perspective. People ask me what I’m doing with the time, now that I’m retired. Hey, I’m constantly busy! Life is to be lived.

  8. I was part of the British invasion and met you, through ‘snail mail’ (how those days have changed!) over 50 years ago….we’ve aged together! But we’re still capable of enjoying life and I thank goodness for those memories we share together! Jen

    1. Jen,
      Here’s to our long, happy friendship! I’m so glad our teachers in 1962 had the foresight to arrange pen pals. I bet we are the only ones still writing to each other, albeit email these days.

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