Monday, December 10, 2012

A 60th birthday gift to my high school classmates

This week, the youngest member of my high school class turns 60. That’s right—the entire Costa High School class of ’70, a bunch of Central Illinois Catholic kids who grew up in the ‘60s—are now a couple decades older than those teachers we thought were “older than dirt” were back when we were raising Cain in our gender-segregated high school classrooms. 

When I celebrated my 60th birthday earlier this year, it looked as if I were going to be spending the day alone. My husband was still living and working a state away, and my daughters and families both lived hours distant. I planned to eat a frozen Weight Watchers cake for breakfast, work, and mope about being alone on my big day. 

My family had other ideas. 

Using some sort of social media magic (the Facebook event function, I suspect), they threw a surprise card shower for me. I got birthday cards in the mail and greetings on my Facebook page for days, some from a few of those long-lost classmates. It was a day to remember. 

Even better, instead of 60, I felt about 16. We aren’t 60 the way our parents and grandparents were 60. 

Baby Boomers don’t get old, do they? I know, there’s probably some kind of saying about that somewhere: Old Baby Boomers don’t die, they just …

As the rest of my friends turned 60 throughout the year, I often posted messages such as these: 

Happy birthday, So-and-so! We’re going to rock 60 like it’s never been rocked before.


Welcome along as the Class of 70 rocks the sixties once again.

Every time I shared a greeting, I wished I could give each of my friends a gift of some sort. Like many, my budget just doesn’t allow for 70-some gifts for classmates and other friends my age. 

A rite of passage

One day, I realized that, as a health care communicator, perhaps there is a gift I can share with my fellow Friars and friends. It’s a reminder that it’s time for another rite of passage. We’re old enough now. 

Just as we once reached an age when we could receive our First Holy Communion, vote, be drafted, or drink, we’ve reached the age when we can get a shingles vaccine

What, you wonder, is the big deal about that? If you’ve ever known anyone who suffered through shingles, you’ll know. If you haven’t, this video will help you understand. 

I did it

I got my shingles vaccine a couple months ago. 

It’s not a cheap immunization.  I was lucky. My health insurance covered it in full. Coverage varies by insurer, but one thing’s sure. You can’t put a price tag on pain—so this preventative measure is worth the cost. 

Class of ’70, as we turn 60, happy birthday! My gift to you is this reminder: Protect yourself. I don’t want to read a message like this on Facebook:

Crap. Sure wish I would have gotten my shingles vaccine. This itching and burning is killing me. I feel so miserable can’t go golfing (fishing, dancing, hiking) or ride go karts (bicycles, Harleys, jet skis) or play baseball (basketball, soccer, pool) with my grandkids.

After all, you can’t feel 16 if you’re hurting like a sick 60-something, can you? Get that shot, Class of 70. 

Happy 60th!

© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012  

 (Image via)