Approaching the second half-century of my life brings me to a new appreciation of the ‘aged’ in our society. Mid-life does have it’s rewards; that being an opportunity to appreciate what has gone by, as well as looking ahead with hopeful anticipation to a world that will allow us to live an age-full life. Simply put; to live and age fully from mid-life to death, to value and honor the full circle of life with all it’s seasons, and the be fully present at each stage or age. There does not seem to be a lot of expectation in that, does there?
A past generation has taught us to respect our elders, but that too has become passé, as society’s trend on respect seems to be declining? Elders are “an older person with some authority. . superior in rank. " They convey honor, wisdom and experience. Respect is a learned behavior. No matter how the body ages, the soul and mind are the same until the end. If youth are taught to respect their elders, they will also learn to respect authority through life, so maybe it’s time to get back to basics. Well explained in this quote “young and old typically have little but superficial contact with each other. We let appearances deceive us and dismiss what our elders have to teach us, even before we give them a chance to speak. Thus, we forfeit the wisdom accumulated through lifetimes. " It is difficult for youth to appreciate wisdom; it comes with life experience, it is not automatic.
I consider myself very blessed to have good memories of wonderful grandparents. Whether they knew it or not, they were teaching me, I was learning and absorbing. It was all the ‘little stuff’ that the books in school could not teach, it is all the knowledge I carry with me today that I could not find on the internet, and it is all that logic that comes simply through osmosis, having been in their presence.
One memory that stands out in my mind is the ‘smoking’ lesson, with grandma (bless her heart)! She was a smoker, of course wanting to be sure her grandchildren did NOT smoke. There was no chitchat about risks and health hazards. She sat me on the kitchen table, lit a cigarette, and taught me to inhale. I guess if I was to be a smoker like she was, I need to be taught the ‘right’ way. Ending the lesson did not come with puffing, inhaling, choking, gagging, coughing, it was when I started turning green! Could that have had an affect on my decision to not smoke? Who knows, but where else in this world can you find wit like that? Maybe that is what our world is lacking; wit, common sense and acceptance. Acceptance that the wrinkles, gray hair, will come, the eyes will get tired, the hearing will fail, the bones will shrink, the joints may hurt, the appetite will diminish and the memory may lapse but that’s normal, it’s ok, or is it? Add to that, the worry about becoming a burden to society, or the loneliness and financial stress?
I often wonder what special messages were never shared by those gone before us. Maybe it would it go something like this: “we gave you love, in hopes that you would pass it on; we gave you wisdom and life skills, one day we may need reminding; we were patient while made mistakes, please have patience in accepting ours; we tolerated the changing times, so now please tolerate changes in us; we taught you to walk, so you could help us when our legs may fail; we taught you to read so that you could be our eyes when our vision may fail; we fed you foods you liked, allowed you to let us know when you were hungry, so please don’t force us to eat if we are not hungry; we cared for you when you were ill, and gave you medications only as required; so please medicate us only as required; we taught you when bedtime was but bent the rules now and again, so please bend rules for us now and again; we encouraged you to participate, be active and socialize, so please allow us that right as long as we can breath and move; we shared with you the days of old, so that those memories can carry on, in case our memory fades; we taught you to drive so that when our keys are taken away, you will give us a ride; we taught you to manage your money, so we can trust you to manage ours when we can no longer do so; we taught you right from wrong, so please remember the difference when you deal with us; we taught you about God so that you will always have somewhere to turn, so please pray for us when we no longer can; if we repeat the same story over and over, just remember how many times you made us read the same book to you at bedtime; we taught you about morals and values, so you could be an inspiration to others; we respected you, not only because you are our children, but because you are human, please remember to respect everyone you meet; on the day you see us weak and tired, try to bear with us and understand; when you see the wrinkles, remember the love, wit and wisdom behind them; remember how we let go when you needed to fly on your own? Please know that when God calls us home, you too can let go! This is the Circle of Life, please live yours fully. "
Thank you and God Bless each elder, here and gone, whom have added life to mine.