By Mary Bisciaio
Originally Published on August 3, 2018.
Age is linear, but life isn’t. It is constantly dipping, bending, twisting, and turning till it morphs into something else. We control our choices, we adapt, but we don’t control life.
Never a joiner, I was much more of a spectator than participant through high school. I steered clear of organized groups, belonging to only one, the Future Teachers Club, but I have had the remarkable distinction of belonging to one of the most amazing historical groups with a lot of my friends. I joined this group by accident as a result of my birth. If anyone is to blame, that would be my parents who met later in life, married in their early thirties and started their family in the right time period.
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I am a Baby Boomer.
Like my parents, a generation of people put off life decisions like marriage and children because of world events. World War II recruited the men to fight in Europe and Asia, leaving behind young wives and girlfriends. The war had support, the evil in Germany and Japan had to be stopped, and the young made sacrifices necessary to win and make the world safe again for families.
When the war ended and the men returned home, couples that had postponed having families delivered (figuratively and literally) a new generation that would have far-reaching effects on society because of their sheer numbers alone.
This is my group; my generation born between 1946 and 1964. The impact has been well-documented and not without problems. We changed society at every step of our existence and forced it to adapt to our needs.
When we descended on school districts, we necessitated the building of more schools. My district now has one high school, one middle school, and four elementary schools had in the 60s one high school with several additions and portable classrooms, three junior highs, and ten elementary schools. My graduating class was over 1200 students and exceeded the limits of the high school gym. Graduation was at Cobo Hall.
We impacted colleges. Many of us the first in our families to attain higher education degrees. More college classrooms, more curriculum choices, and more staff. We demanded more.
We had a social conscience. We were the protest generation that didn’t understand the inequality of civil rights and the poor and underprivileged.
We sacrificed in Vietnam. Young men answering the call of their nation again; this time to stop communism.
We had a plan and a work ethic instilled by our parents, the generation before us who valued hard work and sacrifice. We bought into the American Dream—school, marriage, children, homeownership, a comfortable retirement, and growing old with the love of your life. And some worked too hard, long hours climbing the corporate ladder and making more money than any generation before us.
There was a plan, but the reality was a bending twisting river called life that slapped hard when we lost the first of our parents. I remember telling my husband, life as we knew it would never be the same. The river branched into a painful tributary and in the next twenty years would branch three more times, evolving us into something new.
The birth of our children skewed our path again. Who knew a tiny seven-pound bundle of joy would change our plans with a tiny cough or make our choices over the next years?
Yes, our generation was doomed to make mistakes as we were too open to new experiences, too willing to veer away from the path of our parents, and too intent on leaving our footprint. We made mistakes, have heard the criticism, and still have turned out all right, productive, hardworking, and family-oriented.
The Baby Boomers, practical and impractical, but ultimately the true dreamers. A dream for a better life and a better future.
As we approach and arrive at our linear point called retirement, we have and will continue to impact social security, but keep in mind we also paid into FDR’s program more than any other generation.
When I was teaching, I taught and hopefully inspired my kids to find their dreams and follow them, and to understand the journey is not a straight line, but persistence and stubbornness would eventually win. Life changes, and that’s what it’s really about, and dealing with the changes makes us stronger and whole. We made decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time but weren’t a year later. So, what? We made the best decisions we could at the time with the information we had, and if that was a poor decision on reflection, then the plan changed. That’s the beauty of life. It changes, molds, becomes something else.
In retirement, life changed again. There is a restlessness in my generation born of a life of competitiveness and a love of learning. I see my friends pursuing the things they love with joy, the things they now have time for. Time to donate to hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Time we fill with painting, traveling, writing, woodworking, and dining. Time to reflect on a legacy.
I have all this time to pursue whatever I want. I’ve returned to one of the great loves of my teenage years. I always loved to write, to create stories, and I’ve discovered I’m a romantic. Stories of people finding their way through all the ups and downs of life to form loving, lasting relationships. I’m part of a culture that writes romance novels, some good and some definitely bad, but creative none the less.
Oh, and I belong to the biggest generation in history by chance. Life keeps changing, and I’m hanging on.
You can find Mary’s books at www.amazon.com/author/teadeluca.
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