Boomers mourn their heroes

In Focus column by Andrew Tripp, Jan. 21 Boundary Creek Times.

The recent death of pop icon David Bowie, who succumbed to liver cancer at age 69, has likely forced some Baby Boomers, particularly those over 60, to reflect upon their mortality, something that, according to many social commentators, does not come easily for the most privileged of generations. Once the brash, adventurous and confident demographic, Boomers are now seemingly staring down a tunnel of uncertainty when it comes to their health. As earlier pointed out in this paper’s Editorial column, cancer continues to be the number one cause of death in this and most other western nations, and Bowie’s passing may just be a sign that we may be in for a spike in cancer deaths in the next 10 years.

Those who took to social media to lament the artist’s passing were largely Boomers, many born early in that generation (1946-1964), some at the tail end of it, though some even younger. What was clearly communicated was the sense of loss felt by all, as though a part of themselves had died when the Thin White Duke passed away. Even more recently, the death of musician Glen Frey, founding member of the Eagles, caused another deep tremour throughout pop culture. While Frey was not a victim of cancer, he too was a Boomer and, at age 67, “too young to die.”

It seems that whenever social icons, musicians in particular, pass away, many of us are thrown into a state of uncertainty, especially when those deaths are unexpected. I suppose it’s human nature to react in that fashion; maybe it’s the age-old “am I next?” mentality that kicks in or a “wow, I can’t believe he’s dead” reaction, leaving a sense of uncertainty within those watching their peers succumb to a disease that may just be related to the era in which they were born.

Baby Boomers make up the first generation that is predicted to fall short of surpassing the longevity of its parents, and, perhaps, this recent cluster of sixty-something deaths is a testament to the accuracy of that prediction. The fact that Boomers, traditionally, have been in an ongoing state of denial regarding their own aging and death, as well as leaving an undue economic burden on their children for their retirement and care, makes this worldwide reaction to the recent deaths of Bowie and Frey, as well as Motorhead founder Lemmy Kilmister even more poignant.

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Well, was I wrong! So confident months ago in calling the weather experts’ forecast of a mild and dry winter as one virtually etched in stone, here I am standing in Bridesville up to my thighs in the white stuff. Sure, it’s been unseasonably warm (well, actually, last year was the same), but as for dry, well give me a break! With quite a bit more snow in the forecast for the weeks ahead, we may just have the most snow in our yard and on the roofs of our outbuildings than we have experienced since we moved here permanently in 2010. Now many of you, particularly those who live at lower elevations, are likely wondering what I’m talking about, but it’s simply a testament to how high our elevation is, and an illustration that living at 1000 metres is rarely going to be entirely predictable! For now, I say “bring it on” (the snow, that is), but please don’t melt it all in February! I’d honestly like to see the temperature drop and the snow stick around; that would bode well for our pasture’s regeneration and, combined with an (ideally) wet spring, have me running joyfully through tall grass come June.

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