I love word plays, especially describing Boomers.
My favorite: Boomers are the bridge.
I stumbled on this analogy a decade ago in “The Sandwich Years,” a book ahead of its time. Author Dennis Gibson coined the phrase. It works for me.
Picture yourself as a bridge: an Indiana red covered bridge, the Golden Gate bridge, a floating bridge, a suspension bridge. In our families, we Boomers are like bridges because:
1. Boomers connect people. We remember endless jello salads filled with fruit and topped with Cool Whip. We recall manual typewriters and telephone “party lines.” In our parents’ homes, those were part of life. Yet we also share experiences with the younger set: I-phones, Webkins and Facebook. Our breadth of experience allows us to reach out to old and young. In a similar way, we link our parents with medical professionals. When a doctor slips into “Medicalese,” we can translate for our parent or ask the physician, “Please rephrase that.”
2. Boomers are strong and resilient. Having weathered the test of time, we’ve survived. Many of us have lost loved ones, endured layoffs and triumphed over other disappointments. No matter how difficult tonight is, we’ve learned tomorrow brings an opportunity for a new start. That unshakable optimism centers us.
3. Boomers are approachable. Adult children and the elderly tend to be self-focused. The young ones are launching. The older ones are waning. We’re the go-to people for both generations. They have faith in us, precisely because we have a solid foundation that will not shake.
Yet there is a darker side to being a bridge. “Sometimes we feel walked on from both sides,” Gibson writes. Demands race at us from both the generation above and below us, causing a traffic jam. The bridge is clogged with twenty-somethings and aging parents, screaming and honking their horns (figuratively.)
Periodically we need to stop the traffic and repair the bridge. In the next post, I’ll offer some suggestions.