Moments Across the Generations


When you’re past 50, and certainly 60 or 70 plus, some of us start feeling old. Make that really old at times.

Yet, we’re still here on planet earth, which beats the alternative when we consider how many friends and relatives of our vintage we’ve lost to death or serious ailments.

We knew we were heading north in the chronological numbers when we each saw the movie, The Intern, and found now 78-year-old Robert De Niro actually cute and sexy rather than old and curmudgeonly.

OK, OK, he may not be Tom Cruise, Chris Marten, Ed Sheeran, who appeal to the younger set, but he has a dazzling smile, nice head of gray hair, great wardrobe in that movie, especially those pocket squares, and that je ne sais quoi quality that guys around his age also do.

Consider others such as Harrison Ford or Bill Clinton, the latter before he became a vegan and got too thin. Barbara’s mother’s benchmark for handsome and suave was Cary Grant, whose name some of our kids don’t even recognize or the movies he was in.

But each of us has felt older at different times. Barbara’s has happened in recent years when she’s worked with far younger editors and college classmates or staff. When she started working a month ago with a far younger editor, they talked about family—the editor spoke about her children, the younger one the age of Barbara’s middle grandson. And it also happened further back when Barbara was in the office of her alma mater to meet with several new staff members on her volunteer assignments. They sat on couches around a low table that encouraged camaraderie and conversation but to Barbara also screamed MILLENNIAL gathering. Where was the board room type conference table and chairs good for older backs?

The scene was not too dissimilar from the Brooklyn warehouse in The Intern, with one exception. Barbara didn’t see anyone pedaling around on a bicycle as Anne Hathaway did in the film.

Margaret has had the experience of feeling the gray-haired, elder stateswoman in certain gatherings, even if she literally doesn’t have gray hair. In her last full-time job, she was the oldest person on staff. Today, whether tutoring students, talking with their parents, meeting younger people when she works in a food pantry or at her new garden club, she feels many must think, “Boy, it’s great that at your age you’re still busy and standing!” Truth, be told, Margaret can out walk almost anyone in speed and distance.

But in this generational exchange we’ve mastered an important lesson. Being among these much younger souls turns out to be a two-way street. If you’re Robert De Niro, a retired widower looking to fill up some empty time in a productive way, you end up returning the favor by sharing important life lessons with those much younger when you see and hear them struggle in different ways.

We know they haven’t had many of the life experiences we have—good and bad. We have learned how to cope with failure. We know how to put what’s important in perspective. We know charisma and flash and bling don’t have anything to do with character. And so on.

We also know how smart and hardworking and fun many of these younger people are. Today, there’s often too much criticism about that generation not knowing how to participate in meaningful people-to-people conversations for long spells before they feel the need to check their texts and emails, addressed in a recent article in The New York Times newspaper, “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk” by Sherry Turkle).


However, we find that when we engage them in common ground-–work, volunteering, eating, cooking, wine and cool cocktails, travel and places to glamp, working out, world problems in Ukraine and elsewhere, legal decisions, gun laws, family challenges, whatever–they’re extremely poised, passionate, and articulate and very willing to converse for long stretches. They want us to listen to them, just as we want them to hear us out.


Moreover, they really want to embrace us. Sometimes, they just need to make the generational leap from emojis to real hugs, which are so much more satisfying, especially now that more of us feel safe giving and accepting them, even if we keep on our masks.


We hope both generations still have time to learn so much more from one another.