Turning Sixty

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(Host) Commentator Peg Devlyn has a birthday to talk about and she’s hoping we’ll hold back our black balloons.

(Devlyn) Recently I told a friend I was celebrating my 60th birthday. He was embarrassed for me. ‘You didn’t have to tell me that,’ he said. But why not? Two and a half million Americans will turn 60 this year. That’s a lot of big birthday parties. And I loved mine.

The view from 60 is 360 degrees. Statistics say I can expect to live 24 more years. That’s a package waiting to be opened.

Looking back, we sixty-year-olds have lived in the world’s most amazing time. We can remember when nobody had television. Then we were the first kids to hurry in from outdoor play to watch I Love Lucy.

Before Walter Cronkite, we watched the news with John Cameron Swayze. We watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. We laughed at Sid Ceasar and Milton Berle and Red Skelton. Now the top shows for the sixty-ish viewers are local evening news, CBS Sixty Minutes, Jag, and Everybody Loves Raymond. We’re a generation that still wants TV to bring us the news and the world’s big events, and that still wants a good clean laugh.

We’re not a homogenous group, though. We’re black and white, affluent and poor, liberal and conservative. The earned lines in our Botox-free faces tell about our lifetimes of smiles, scowls, and worries. We’re a generation that worked hard and cared deeply.

We’re active voters. Our generation brought in the environmental movement, the women’s movement, and the civil rights movement. We tend to look behind us to see if the younger generations are coming along.

Not all we survey from the past looks successful. Once we thought we had seen the war to end all wars. Now war is looking too much like a way of life again.

And just when our bodies are becoming…well, less than perfect… we see we’ve let our health care system become a mess. The drug culture has grown up under our noses. We’ve declared and lost the war against drugs, the war against crime, and the war against wars, better known as the peace movement.

Now we can look forward to our average 24 years ahead. One reason I enjoy being sixty is that much of my personal hard work is done. My children are grown and I love the results. Their children are a delight for me, but the work is all theirs. I still go to work every day, and now I can spend my hours and energy on the issues and causes I care about most.

As for the future, it’s mine to unwrap, a day at a time. Because no matter what the statistics say, today is the only day we have. Hold the black balloons and the sorry glances. This day of being sixty is just fine.

Peg Devlyn is co-owner of Marketing Partners, Inc. in Burlington, Vermont.

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