Sunday, February 2, 2014

If You're Bereaved and You're a Boomer, Clap Your Hands!

Dear John,
 
I'm in bed with the dog and the laptop - the cats have had their treats and gone off somewhere together - and I had a thought. You know that I've been preferring music to television since going off the Cymbalta - I think alterations in attention span may be part of that - but the music is so painful now. I'm hearing either love songs that make me sad because they once made us happy, or love-lost songs that speak to me now of a much worse loss than the song intended.
 
Tonight it occurred to me that I can't be the only Boomer having that experience. I'm near the tip of the iceberg of Boomer widows and widowers. And, as much as we've always loved our music, I'm certain that I'm not alone in how I hear our songs. I can see us one day, filling up the nursing homes and stretching the extended-care system to its breaking point, reacting to music in ways that baffle our overworked caretakers. We've already envisioned day room fist fights over the merits of the Beatles versus the Stones. I can imagine dining hour being disrupted by mass weeping and wailing when Peter, Paul, & Mary's Wedding Song comes on over the PA system or, heaven help us, somebody plays a Dead Teenager Song.
 
Songs we sang so easily then, come much harder now. In the dorm I'd get out my guitar and we'd all sing Kisses Sweeter than Wine; now I skip that track on my Weavers CD. As we get older and experience more - and more terrible - losses, the old songs will sound different to more and more of us. Will we gather 'round the rec room piano and sing Let it Be with tears in our eyes? Will we laugh and flirt through When I'm Sixty-Four? Will anybody be left able to sing, when the song is Song for a Winter's Night? I bet we'll all get up to dance to Brick House - I still remember almost every move of the dance. I heard it yesterday and threw safety to the winds, making the arm motions while driving County Road 40 and passing Amish buggies in the snow.
 
Our nursing homes will be staffed by our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I wonder what they will think of us all. Like we told the student who waited on us that day we went back to UK, walked the campus, and ate lunch at K Lair Grill, we were once what she is and she will one day be what we are. And that is good. That's the way of life.
 
So, for now, I'm being immensely cheered by the thought that my fate will be a common Boomer experience and, being us, we will be sure to make a loud and unique statement of it. If I was Edward Gorey, I'd start drawing nursing home scenarios when certain songs were played. Since I'm not, I'll just giggle about it. Misery does value company. And, when it comes to sheer numbers, we Boomers are the gorilla in the room. I belong to an ever-growing company of bereaved Boomers. I feel better knowing that.
 
I'd better turn off the light now. The dog is making grumbling noises and it's tomorrow already. Love you so, so much,
Joan.

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