What if I told you that you could see your future? Hold that thought.
When I was growing up, I was taught to respect my elders. Back then, that generally meant listening to those elders and doing as they said. One thing that I’ve learned more recently from my elder (my Dad) is that this is still a good rule, but the implementation is a bit different. Now, even though I can be considered an “elder” myself in some circles, I still need to respect MY elders. Now that means being appreciative of their knowledge, experience, and helping meet their needs. Back when I was little I was the one with the needs, which my parents met in every way. Now it’s my Dad who has the needs, which it’s up to me to meet.
The other day my Dad and I were walking in to the supermarket. While he’s remarkably spry for his age, he doesn’t do anything fast. A young man rush up behind us and my initial impression was that he’d have pushed us out of the way if he thought he could have gotten away with it. Now, maybe he was on his way to the pharmacy for some urgently needed medicine, but I suspect it could have been due to his just not having any idea about the capabilities of someone in their 90s.
Now a days, many people’s only contact with the elderly is visiting them at a facility every third Thursday, or maybe they just see them on TV. They do not see what it really takes to live at that age, on a day-to-day basis, what the challenges are, and the sheer guts it requires. In the absence of that knowledge, they just assume that the elderly are just like everyone else. The man in a hurry at the supermarket may just never have had any experience with an elder.
I would encourage you to spend some time with your elders. Learn what they need and what their limitations are. Better yet, get involved in caring for your elders. You’ll learn a lot about life at going-on-three-digits of age. When you meet an elder in public, cut them some slack. They’re doing the best they can do. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to cut everyone a bit of slack; is it going to make or break your day if it takes a few extra seconds to get to the ice cream aisle?
Now about that thought I asked to hang on to… If you could see into the future, YOUR future, would you do it? Wouldn’t you like to know what life has in store for you? You can, or you can at least get a pretty good idea. Look at your elders, particularly those in your own family who you share genes with. If you live that long, and the odds of you living to an advanced age are getting better and better (“The longer you live, the longer you’re GONNA live”, my Dad says), your future awaits.
So, respect and care for your elders, and teach your young’uns to do the same. You’ll be glad you did when you’re an “elder”.
I hope NPR’s Scott Simon doesn’t mind my quoting him:
“And when she told me, ‘Honey, always take time with people in their 80s,’ I hear her voice coming back into mine now. ‘Always take time with people in their 80s because for more than a decade, they’ve been looking right across the street at death and they know what’s really important in life.’ I don’t know about you, but I can stand to hear that message.” – Scott Simon On Sharing His Mother’s Final Moments On Twitter