Will our generation forget those who have lived before us? Those that worked so diligently and made our cushy lives possible? The ones that no matter how crotchety they may seem on the outside, endured more in their lives than we can even fathom? The part of the population we curse for driving/walking/existing too slowly in front of us?
Those still living, though not to the fullest, maybe with the aide of diapers and pureed food, without memories able to be shared?
Are we so busy living our lives that we forget simple things, no matter the age, like saying, “Hello!”
Are we annoyed because we have to repeat ourselves several times in order for them to hear us? That we have to raise our voices because their hearing aids aren’t in…
I don’t think so.
I think we, and by “we” I mean anyone who hasn’t gotten AARP literature in the mail yet, are afraid.
We are afraid of getting old. We are afraid of not being in control. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid our bladders may give out or we’ll need a new set of teeth…or more realistically, we’re afraid of being alone.
“When I grow old, I want to live to such and such an age and then go quietly in my sleep…”
Who frickin’ doesn’t?! I mean, that’s my grampa’s dream, but it’s still not happening for him just yet.
Old people aren’t scary…they are just you and me, but crinklier and a heck of a lot wiser. They all have stories, boat loads of them, some seasoned with beauty, others with pain, loss, sadness.
On a daily basis, I don’t sit around and think about old people. My mom does. She visits my gramps every. single. day. This winter we’ve been passing the “sick” baton more than I like, but when I think of it, not that I want to get my grampa sick, but avoiding visiting him b/c my kids are sick is a lame excuse…
It’s about as irrational as my faulty thinking 5 and a half years ago when I literally thought:
I mean, really! What the honk?! #$%^&*
So, instead of being afraid of having nothing in common with an old person, let’s ALL stop focusing on ourselves (this is written by me, to me, in case you are getting cranky at me, thinking I THINK I have it altogether…this is a smack down for me, too!), that we even need to find ANYTHING in common, and let’s sit and just LISTEN.
Be specific with questions:
- Do you remember how old you were during the Depression? Were you born yet?
- What did you and your siblings do when your parents had to work?
- Did you ever date anyone before you met Grandma?
- What are some of your earliest childhood memories?
- What did you and your friends like to do for fun?
- When you met Grandpa, do you remember what you first thought?
- What was your wedding like? Or did you elope?
- What was your first job? Your favorite job?
- Do you remember what life was like around the Civil Rights Movement?
- How old were you at your first memory of our country going to war?
- What was your favorite subject in school?
- When you were a kid, what was your dream job or a goal you wanted to reach in life? Did you?
- When did you know you wanted to marry Grampa/Gramma?
- What was it like to be a parent for the first time? Were you scared? Did you want to do it like your parents had or change up a few things?
- Lots and lots of questions…
Yes, some of their stories will be completely crazy, maybe even inappropriate for the grandkids to hear, but who cares?! They are real people with real stories to tell…I just wonder how many of their stories have never been told…
So here’s a dare: I dare you to get yourself an old person. If you have one that you already spend lots of time with, great! That is so great! Maybe introduce that special old person to another old person.
My gramps is in a residential care home with about 6 other old people. They all have their own recliners and most of them nap the whole day long, but whenever we walk in with Em and Ryan, they wake up. Em went there the other day with my parents and took her stacking cups…she did a little “show” for the folks.
Feel free to come here and post a story about your old person or put a link to your blog so we can read it. The point is, there are lonely old people “out there” that would love just a “hello….”
Afraid to take them candy b/c their teeth will fall out? Afraid to kiss them b/c you might make them sick? Afraid to sit and listen, look into their eyes, and hold their hand b/c you might be touched by something bigger than yourself? That you might fall in love with the old person and then they’ll go and die…
It’s okay. No one ever was condemned for loving their neighbor…