Saying Goodbye to a Decade of ‘Boomer’ Columns
When life changes course
Author and playwright David L. Robbins wrote for Boomer’s print edition from its early days. In bidding adieu to Boomer magazine, he reflects on saying goodbye and life transitions.
In summer, I grow geraniums. Red, white, and pink puffball blooms, they last through heat and neglect, the two constants of my summer gardening.
Weeks ago, during a windy night, three leggy stems snapped off. They lay like little tragedies, pastel baby birds that had leaped too soon from the nest and could not fly. I gathered them up, not knowing what to do. I couldn’t throw these twisty limbs away – they’d worked too hard for me. They’d colored my isolation and insisted I care for them, a reminder how vital to me caring is.
I lack real gardening knowledge and skill. I pour potting soil into a pot, dig a hole, stick a plant in, then water the thing when it slumps. I don’t have a green thumb but am mostly all-thumbs. With these three torn-off boughs, I did the simplest thing: cut the bottoms off cleanly, then pushed them into the dirt. I gave them a drink and expected them to wither.
Instead, all three stems took root, stiffened, and made new flowers. Red, white, and pink. Despite myself, I make things grow. Therein lies a lesson.
The Lesson of Farewell
Life, as it turns out, insists.
We cling, we living things. It may be our most consistent trait.
We don’t like saying goodbye. I won’t break into my usual song-and-dance of examples from my own life: my mom and dad, my dogs, my lovers. You have a big enough library of your own, of loved ones, pets, plants that stayed by you past all reason, that hung in there, perhaps even blossomed when they might otherwise have withered. You, yourself, may right now be someone else’s powerful example, and good for you.
The more years we pile on, the more experience we gain at saying goodbye. It doesn’t get easier, these sendoff waves and parting tears, but each farewell joins a growing list and doesn’t feel so prominent. We’ve let go of friends, some to death, many to circumstances. We’ve moved beyond marriages, jobs, cars, houses, the wrenching departure of four-legged friends; we’ve lost money and opportunity, maybe a trophy, maybe a memory. Too often, we’ve measured ourselves by what slips our grasp more than what we hold onto. That’s our nature. A hole will always feel deeper than a mound is high.
I’ve said my share of goodbyes. I’ve heard more than I like to recall. I might be in many different places in my life were it not for goodbyes. But here I am, and here we are.
Saying Goodbye and Life Transitions
For a decade, I’ve been honored to write the back page for Boomer’s print magazine. This magazine has clung for a long time and admirably so. But, at last, the print magazine has succumbed to the realities of the times, moving to the new world of digital. I will no longer have this pot of soil for my stories, my Native Sons.
On the pages of Boomer, I’ve grown well into the second half of my life. As your correspondent, I’ve tried to be candid and heartfelt, to explore the courses of life where you and I might find commonalities. I’ve shared honestly, in the hope that I might inspire and, at my best, illuminate something in you from what light I can focus out of myself.
Fashioning these columns has invited me deeper into myself. For 10 years, I filled a basket from my own garden rows, to bring it back to you in 700 words. To a little surprise, I discovered that I’ve grown very little inside me that can be called distinct. In 60-plus essays, I’ve plumbed the depths of who I call “David,” to inevitably discover that you and I share much more than what separates us. In the end, my mother was yours, your father was mine, your loneliness rests on my shoulders like your laughter shakes them, my follies are yours and your children’s, the sound of your hearts sound like mine. I did not know how much we are alike, you and me, until I wrote for you for a long time in Boomer magazine.
I owe you thanks for reading and teaching me. I’ll cling somewhere else; no worries. I’ll sink more roots. It’s what we do, we living things. Goodbye.
As long-time columnist for Boomer, David L. Robbins has reflected on a variety of topics. Besides saying goodbye and life transitions, he has examined fallen heroes, strong women, family relationships, freedom and patriotism, and so much more.
Robbins is also a best-selling author, founder of the James River Writers, co-founder of The Podium Foundation and creator of the Mighty Pen Project writing program for veterans and first responders.