Fathers and Daughters

19 11 2013

In memory of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, the women of Midlife Boulevard have dedicated November’s bloghop to our reflections on President John Kennedy. A bloghop is when a group of bloggers write on the same subject. The links to my friend’s blogs are at the end of this post.


President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, and I are the same age.  So like me, she was a little girl when a bullet cancelled her father’s life. My main memory of this tragic event is of all the important adults in my life crying, which was unsettling to a small child. In watching the news on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination it stated what we now know. The assignation was a mile marker in our young country’s life. It marked our loss of innocence. I remember my parents glued to the flickering black and white images on our television as the horrific news played out intimately in our living room. While commonplace now, the immediacy of this kind of news coverage was happening for the very first time in history.

Me in the early ‘60’s

Me in the early ‘60’s

Being only six, I did not relate to the before-Kennedy-was–shot-world the adults in my life would talk about for decades. I could, however, identify with Caroline, the President’s only daughter because she was my age. The images of her young life were similar to mine. They showed a smiling, loving, playful and doting father with his family. Photographs showed her playing in her Dad’s office, just like I played in my Dad’s shop as he worked. While it can be questioned if Kennedy was a good president or a good husband, no one questions that he was a good dad.

Caroline and I have shared the same cultural milestones throughout our lives; blowing out candles on a birthday cake, teenage prom pictures, friends together at the beach. Our college years had us both with long flowing hair, wearing jeans and the required graduation photo in cap and gown. Getting married as we became adults, having children and then pictures of our own young families.

As we entered midlife, we have both entered into unconventional relationships. While divorce rumors swirl around her, Caroline and her husband remain married, though it is reported that they live apart.  I entered a new relationship a few years after my divorce; we’ve chosen to live together and not get married.  Caroline and I are both apparently comfortable doing it our own way.

Me and my dad ‘65

Me and my dad ‘65

We have both reinvented our lives in our 50’s by learning to be true to ourselves. As her children have grown up and started their own lives, Caroline is leaving her old life behind and is now the new ambassador to Japan.  As I became an empty nester and newly divorced I moved forward with my life too. Certainly not as big as moving to another country with a powerful job, but I started a new business this past year and push myself to do things outside my comfort zone.  We are at an age where we are taking our life’s experience and energy and fearlessly embracing this next chapter.

I have not had the very public tragedies that have haunted Caroline’s life. Thankfully I had my father in my life well into my adulthood.  While Caroline’s and my life have been very different, our shared cultural milestones have always allowed me to relate to her and through her I see her father…the man who was once my President. My own dad had a personality that could fill a room and was known locally for the business he created—her dad inspired a generation and led a nation. To hear Caroline talk of her father, it’s readily apparent the real love and respect she has for him. And not as the legendary figure he has become, but as a real man…her dad. I believe both our father’s would be proud of the women we have become. The love they gave us has allowed them to live on through us.

I‘m a proud writer at Midlife Boulevard.

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Boomers and Millenials

24 06 2013

Last night three Boomer couples visited over food and drink and shared our stories on a hot summer night, poolside under a bright shining moon. Even though we didn’t know each other in our younger days, our “drugs, sex, rock and roll” stories were similar. We all had the same cultural touch points, the JFK and MLK assassinations, civil rights, Viet Nam and Beatles vs. Stones.

Earlier that day, I attended a leadership retreat with my professional club, AAF-BR.  I am now the oldest member on that board. What my sweetie told me is true; I’ll be the last Boomer president that organization has. Driving that point home, the 26-year old who followed me was our youngest president ever. At a conference we attended, someone assumed he was my son. I told him from now on, I was going to refer to him as my boy toy. Even though this group of professions is younger than me, we respect each other and I believe they enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs.

I’m pondering this, as it seems there’s been a rash of articles recently that makes it appear that Boomers and Millenials are at war with each other. I’m sure you’ve heard it. Boomers saying that Millenials are an entitled group of slackers who want everything handed to them without working for it. And Millenials saying the Boomers have screwed their environment, the economy and now they’re in debt and can’t get a job because Boomers won’t retire and can the Boomers just die off already.

Are we doing the same thing, just differently?

Are we doing the same thing, just differently?

No doubt there’s a generation gap. But wasn’t there an even larger generation gap between Boomers and their parents. And wasn’t it the Baby Boomer generation that said, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,”  that is until they aged out of that belief?

I went to see The Great Gatsby with my 23-year-old daughter and a few of her friends and was reminded of the differences of our ages. We all enjoyed the movie and went out for a drink together after. I had to tweet a picture of my wine because it was time for the Generation Fabulous winehop  and I wanted to be a part of it. I felt the need to apologize because I believe there’s rudeness to being more engaged with your phone than the company you’re with. ‘No Problem” they said, they really didn’t tweet but were into Vine  and Snapchat. I thought I was social media savvy, but I realized these young ‘ens absorb the latest thing and intuitively know how to do it and have moved on to something else before I’ve ever heard of it.

There was also the conversation that Kanye West is this generation’s Bob Dylan. I patted the young fella’s hand and laughingly said, “Bless your heart, we’ll just have to accept the fact that we’re from different generations.”

These are the differences that continues to keep life interesting. I’ve learned a big lesson from this age group. They are fearless and feel they can do anything. I really love how they embrace people  for who they are. They’re more color-blind and it doesn’t matter to them who their friends love.

My young friend, the AAF president recently went head-to-head with the State Governor about a proposed tax on creative services. I would have never had the chutzbah to face off with the Governor at a press conference.  He attributed it to his age which is more WTF than OMG and to the fact that he’s passionate about the advertising industry that we’re both a part of.  The Millenials have a “Yeah, I can do it and it doesn’t matter if I don’t know how, I’ll figure it out” attitude. It may come across to some as cocky, but I see it as fearless.

So this Boomer has tried to adopt that attitude. Instead of saying, “No, I don’t know how to do that, so I can’t.” I’ve learned to say, “Yeah I can do it, no problem.” And if I don’t know how, I can always get a young friend to show me the way.

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I’m proud to be a GenFab blogger!

The Sandwich Generation

4 08 2012

My mom, my daughter and me at a family crawfish boil.

I was born on the cusp of the baby boom. What that has meant to my life is that I have been in the middle of every trend for the past 50 years. Schools were built to accommodate my generation. I’ve been a backpacker across Europe, a YUPPY, a DINK, a New Ager, married, older parent, soccer mom, Girl Scout leader, divorced, single mom, and online dater. I’ve been upsized, downsized, done yoga, fad diets and the no-diet diet, become a foodie and lover of good wine, done self-help and life coaching and now blogging. Every time I have discovered something new, it’s the next day’s headline of the country’s latest trend.

The hardest trend I’ve been a part of was joining “The Sandwich Generation.” This is the when you’re still raising your kids while caring for aging parents.

My parent’s wedding, September 2, 1955

My mom moved in the day my dad suddenly died from a heart attack. I’m an only child and my Mom has epilepsy, so because of Mom’s health and financial resources, this was the only choice I felt I could make. While the decision was easy, the reality was more difficult. In hindsight, Mom moved in as my marriage was falling apart. My ex and I suffered from having to have the last word, which made for long, loud arguments. Mom was often in the eye of the storm. I blamed her drawing inward on our family dynamics. I really related to a comment I heard Wynona Judd make—she said her family could suck the oxygen right out of a room.

I helplessly watched Mom’s health decline. I kept expecting her to “get a life,” and found it difficult to understand when I came home from a full exhausting day to realize she had just sat in her bed doing word puzzles. I couldn’t accept the fact that that it was her life and that if all she could do was watch TV all day that it had to be OK with me. I kept thinking she would soon start to blossom in her new life. I would make list of things I thought she should do: call the Council on Aging, contact the Epilepsy foundation, join a widow’s support group. What I came realize was that all she needed was a hug and for me to allow her to just be.

On the eve of the anniversary of my Dad’s death, she got sick with a bad cold that my family all had. It had her in the hospital in 24 hours, and in 48 hours I was discussing “do not resuscitate” orders with her doctor.  The immediate crisis passed but she was eventually in the hospital for over a month. At that time, I didn’t expect her to ever be the mom I knew her to be and longed for again. I believed she was at the end of her life and the next thing I’d be planning was her funeral. During this time I continued to work full-time, taking lunch breaks at the hospital, juggling my life and family’s activities.  I came to the realization with the loving help of my family and friends that I would no longer be able to care for Mom at home when she would eventually be released. She needed constant nursing care, 24hours a day and, no matter how much I juggled, I couldn’t do it.

I started the process of finding a new home for Mom. She had little awareness of anything during this period. By the time she left the hospital she seemed to understand and seemed perfectly comfortable with all the decisions I had made for her. I found a nice nursing home less than one mile from my house. And soon, I had her furniture, pictures and clothes in her new room.

She has made a recovery that no one expected. She slowly regained her strength and with the stabilization of 24-hour nursing care, her seizures have almost disappeared. She’s now got a boyfriend. She says she has no interest in getting married, but she did make her fiancé buy her an engagement ring. While still frail, she is once again the smart, clear-minded, feisty woman who loves to be outrageous and the center of attention. Most importantly, she got that life I was hoping for.

My Mom and me, 1961

She recently gave me a gift that I didn’t know I needed.  Even though I know she is in the best place for her I still had a deep hidden seed of guilt that I hadn’t done enough for her.  Then one evening my daughter and I dropped by. My daughter, Mom, her nurse and I were all looking at a bunch of cats that people had abandoned behind the nursing home. Mom said that she felt that there were some people at that home who were like those cats…abandoned. And that maybe God had wanted her to reach this stage in her life, so she could be there for someone who didn’t have anyone.  And I thankfully realized that Mom had reached another place in her life’s journey, just as I had.

And me…I’ve found love again with a widower. As my daughter grew up and moved out and I became an empty nester, he moved in. Yeah, over 50-somethings not bothering to get married, that’s yet another trend I’m part of.