Hello in There
It is Easter week and all around America, families are planning their Easter ceebrations and dinners with family and friends. Once again, as on every holiday, the great debate about who will transport the elderly who no longer drive to the festivities presents itself. Do we have a volunteer? After all, it's out of the way, adds time to an already tight schedule. Do we really expect the cook to do it or the man in charge of putting extra chairs around the dinner table?
Eventually we will all be the person installed in the easy chair in the corner of the living room; expected to stay out of the way and sit quietly obserivng the conversation and activities of the rest of the family. While the family scurries about, talking excitedly about their lives and adventures, no one notices the soul in the corner sitting quietly seemingly with nothing to say and nothing to contribute to the conversation or life in general. Their bodies are frail, their thoughts seem lost in rheumy eyes that watch but what do they really see?
They see more than you realize. They know more than you can fathom.
The curse of old age isn't just failing health and loss of stamina; it is loneliness and no longer being visible as a valuable contributor to society. But, that wrinkled face being relegated to the fringe of life is a soul and heart full of memories, emotion, experience and knowledge. The elderly are the forgotten resource of information!
They can answer questions you don't even know you have yet. They have seen life in all its glory and in all its ugliness. They know sorrow, love, pain, struggle, defeat, victory, and pain. They know loneliness. They know what happened to Uncle Joe. They know the missing ingredient to Aunt Bee's dinner casserole. They know how to spot a fake personality. They know how to get a baby to sleep. They know how to fix a chair.
They know history and they know war in ways the history books and documentaries can never explain. They have opinions, concerns and they love you.
My mother's passing marked an end to an entire generation of my family. I never forgot when she mused to me one day how there was no one left alive who could answer the many questions she still harbored in her heart. That wasn't the only thing that inspired me to write this. It was also John Prine's song Hello in There. If you haven't heard it, you need to.
This Easter take your grandma's or grandpa's hand and say hello. Ask them to tell you what life was like for them growing up. Ask them what is their fondest memory. Ask grandpa how he asked grandma to marry him. Ask them what it was like dealing with food rationing in World War 2. Ask their advice and tell them you love them.
Take the tme to tap that unused source for a wealth of information and insight. Let them share their memories. You won't regret it.