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Ken pays respect to his elders

I have your backs, seniors—and your backsides, open medical gowns and all. So what if you unintentionally embarrass your kids by posting private comments about their childhood to their public Facebook wall? At least you figured out how to log on. It’s the thought that counts, right? And so what if you don’t trust a hybrid car that doesn’t make noise when the engine is running? I don’t either. If the dang thing is “on” and working, the car should make noise—it is as simple as that. My girlfriends from high school, take note. A little feedback would have been helpful.

Mom, dad, you may have lost a step or two and you may mix up your kids’ names (or perhaps your first and second
spouses) now and again, but you are absolute treasures. If I haven’t always showed my gratitude, please forgive me. I will soon, I promise. Okay, okay, I’ll be serious for a minute. Your generation carried the world on your shoulders
through much tougher and turbulent economic and political times than recent years, you fought devastating wars for
freedom and liberty of others, not just Americans, and you adjusted to more technological advancements than any generation— ever. (During biblical times, Moses brought us the Ten Commandments? Now, the younger generation is more likely to name a digital “tablet” after him.)

You earned the right to be respected. Who else stared down the Soviet Union or put humans on the moon? Not my generation. No one under the age of sixty has ever even known the “draft.” The most I can say that I sacrificed for
my country was—well, I can’t, at least certainly not at your levels. My generation may be facing its share of geopolitical and social challenges at the country’s helm right now, but we inherited the most promising future of any civilization in history and a wealth of ideals, principles and values to build upon, all because of your thoughtful caretaking.

And what did my generation give in return? Medical improvements like artificial hips and knees, the “scooter,” the
“clapper,” and reverse-mortgages or retirement homes. Not much of a trade-off, is it? Just wait and see what we do to
your social security benefits and Medicare! (If you haven’t noticed, the minute is over).

On behalf of all “boomers,” especially those with kids, let me say that we get it now. For most of us, the river of love that flowed downstream from you to us as we matured into decent human beings has now reversed course upstream. We are no longer “up the creek without a paddle;” you are loved and adored beyond words for all the right reasons—finally— in your exalted status as baby-sitters, er, grandparents, and keepers of life’s ancient wisdom.

Do you seniors remember when your kids were teenagers and you stayed up at night wondering if the world would survive Elvis, the psychedelic 60s, or heavy metal music? Well, you did, they did, and so did the world. We had you worried, didn’t we? Yes, we screwed off for as long as we could before getting serious about life, but your good parenting eventually prevailed. Can I have an “amen” here?

Which brings me full circle back to serious again—I worry about our kids today like you worried about us. Generation X and the Millennials appear to be so pre-occupied with their iPhones, Facebook or Twitter that they don’t even look up, let alone look back to appreciate the past. In your day, you had no choice but to resolve interpersonal conflicts face-to-face with words. You learned to express feelings, to give someone their dignity when conveying bad news, and above all, to be kind. Or not. As difficult as that was, you found the courage.

Not today. Technology is often used to hide. Friends are “unfriended” without so much as an explanation. Romantic relationships are broken up by text, Twitter, or the dreaded “change of status” on Facebook to “it’s complicated” or “single.” Apparently, even email is now passé—what, too many words?

So, a little help here, please? If we “boomers” should miss a “teachable moment” with our kids or grandkids, you have
our permission to seize the moment for yourselves. We still have some valuable lessons to learn—from you. Your work here is far from done.

"we screwed off for as long as we could before getting serious about life, but your good parenting eventually prevailed. Can I have an “amen” here?"