Is Invisibility Chosen or Imposed?

I am a play-by-the-rules gal who does not strive to be the life of a party. I’m fine over here

A squeak to the right of the bell curve is a modest little dot. That’s me – the minuscule spec of a flawed perfectionist dangling her feet over a mid-life crisis. The date on my birth certificate pronounces me as a Baby Boomer, just barely. The end of a generational classification. Not the very end. I was born in February, not on December 31, 1964, at 11:59 p.m. Somewhere “out there” in the universe, an interesting person holds the honor of being the very last Boomer ever born. Not me. I am an average, run-of-the-mill Baby Boomer.

— Excerpt from Walking Old Roads, to be released mid to late 2023 —

enjoying the entertainment provided by those who shine much louder than me. Performers need an audience, and I am happy to oblige. I’ve considered my life in the shadows of others to be my choice. As my generation peaks the hill and heads down the other side, I begin to question whether my choice to live in the comfortable peacefulness of quiet obscurity is good for me, or good for the generations that follow.

The pharmacy staff call her Miss Mary. “How are you today, Miss Mary, and what can we do for you?’ Their happiness to see her, and their sincerity to help her, is legit. They connect to this woman in a way foreign to me. I tend to stay in my solitary bubble, avoiding eye contact and conversation unless necessary. Miss Mary begins joking with them about her aches and pains, and they tell her she is due for some vaccinations. She pretends to scold the pharmacist for experiencing too much enjoyment from the task of sticking her with needles. Everyone behind the counter is smiling and laughing as they enjoy a moment of fun together.

Once the business of medication and vaccines is complete, they say their goodbyes, and Miss Mary and I head to the checkout. I love how everyone at this little pharmacy looks out for my mom. I use the same pharmacy, but they don’t know me unless I’m with Miss Mary. I have not cultivated a relationship with them the way she has. I have not made myself visible to them like she has. I would do well to learn from her example.

I start placing our purchases on the conveyor belt and Mom chimes in, “What’s wrong with me? I should be helping you with that.” I tell her it is fine. She converses with the cashier as I load the cart with our groceries. The cart helps steady Mom’s wobbly gait as we cross the parking lot at her pace. As I’m lifting the bags from the cart to the trunk, Mom chimes in again with more distress in her voice. “Here I go again. I’m sorry. I should be helping you with this. What’s the matter with me?” Once again, I assure her all is fine. What she thinks of as heavy lifting, is not in the slightest bit heavy for me.

I deposit the cart in the cart return, as the rules suggest. Meanwhile, Mom gets herself buckled into the passenger seat. My mind has moved on from our shopping task. Mom’s mind has not. I enter the car to find her upset and starting to cry. “I’m so useless. I can’t do anything for myself. I work you too hard. I just don’t like who I am anymore. I don’t even know why I’m still here.” The weight she carries is far heavier than the bags of groceries I lift each week during our outings.

Baffled by the sudden turn of her mood, I respond with a question. “Did you not see what just happened inside a few minutes ago at the pharmacy?” The genuine confusion in my voice and on my face catches her off guard. The crying stops as she searches for an answer to my question. I do not wait for her to figure it out. “You brought joy to every person in that pharmacy. You brightened their day. Think of all the unruly people they deal with on a regular basis. You made it all worthwhile for them. You did that. You do that for friends and strangers alike. You may think you are unimportant and unseen, but the people around you see and hear you. You set a good example for everyone watching. If that isn’t useful, then I don’t know what is.”

Miss Mary could not deny the facts. Her actions had made a difference in the lives of others. I get it though. As I age, I feel insignificant, without purpose, and invisible at times. I need to follow in Miss Mary’s unsteady footsteps. I need to be present and involved with the people right in front of me. It is my responsibility to teach the next generations the importance of connection in creating a community. I’ve heard claims that the younger generations ignore the worth of the Baby Boomers.

Is that true though? Do the younger generations ignore the presence of their elders, or are we making ourselves unseeable to them?


Tammy Hader
Tammy Hader
Tammy Hader has no writer’s pedigree. With a BBA in accounting from Wichita State University, numbers are her history. The CPA exam was passed, because that’s what accountants are supposed to do, and thirty years later her accounting life ended with the desire to journey down a different career path. The compass turned toward words to create a new legacy beyond spreadsheets. Her nostalgic writing reflects on the past to explain the present and shine into the future the light of lessons learned. Growing up in a small Midwestern town, influenced by relationships, choices, consequences, and situations, her life is not unique. In her stories, you will recognize reflections of your own past, understand how you arrived at today’s version of you and gaze with her across the bridge into the future.

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