I was inspired to write this article in memory of my grandmother after a phone conversation with a close friend in Virginia who happens to share the same family bloodline as me. We both started reminiscing about growing up in our community in the late 60’s early 70s’.
Today, our society has changed as we witness an entire generation of the elderly population we grew-up with slowly disappearing to illnesses and old age. Although we understand the inevitability of human life, and that generations will come and go, yet we are never prepared for the end of human life or acceptance of the reformation of society.
Growing up in a small community meant that we are all somehow connected one way or the other; whether we are first cousin, second or tenth cousins. The elderly population at that time played a very important role in our society; they were the mortar that held our foundation together, and are mostly the reason for our existence. They saw to it that we were well nurtured and protected, although modern society would consider those parental characteristics to be intrusive.
We spoke of the values and traditions that were passed on from generation to generations over the century and how these same traditions that were more receptive to the generation before us is of no significance to the generation of modern society. We convinced ourselves that we had to be the last generation to appreciate the experience and tradition of our grandparents’ way of life – now that we are of age at becoming grandparents ourselves.
Elderly people have spent a lot of time in the world and have seen things that generations after them will never witness and certainly will not understand. Elderly people taught us respect, manners, traditions, appreciation of things, and how to accept and deal with life experiences. We talked about the tradition of greeting our elders when you come in contact with them, giving up your seat for them, helping them carry things, helping them with their chores, be respectful to them and listening when they talk. In return they have passed down their experiences and values through volunteerism, giving us the tools that we need to survive and learn.
As our conversation continued into the hour we both learned something about us. We both prefer spending time with older people as opposed to people our own age. We can learn so much from their experiences; history, relationship, perseverance, gratitude, and wisdom of knowledge their long life has afforded them. Although there is much to be admired about youthfulness such as, high level of energy, determination, ambition, good health, and new vision, but if we don’t balance that approach with the finer qualities that the elderly population possess then we lose ourselves.
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