Why you should befriend an older generation (SQT)

Do you feel overwhelmed sometimes? Lost? What about overjoyed? Me too. And guess what, someone else has been there before.

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit with Stuart’s grandmother. We stayed in her home in the town where she raised her children, we met her wonderful friends, and we talked. It was splendid.

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We have been blessed with wonderful grandparents and friends to connect and learn from. There is a great wise aging population in the world who is full of knowledge and typically would love to share it with you. Below are some reasons and benefits to spending time with the over 70 crowd.

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Slowing Down

An older generation can teach you a little something about the art of slowing down. Often these full of life senior citizens have learned to meter their days with the appropriate rest and are not pressured to always run off to the next thing. Most of the wise aged come from a different time where you sat on the porch with neighbors in the summer not concerned with social media or having pin worthy life. It may be hard to put aside your to do list, but take a page from these wise friends and enjoy the moment, spend time with those you love. You won’t regret it.

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Lasting Strength

If you want to witness true strength, look no further. This population shows up with perseverance daily. There are things each day that ail their bodies, but with each day they get up and try again. When I have fleeting moments when my body can’t go any further or I feel fatigued from a long day I am reminded of the energy and perseverance that this older generation shows day in and day out.

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Life after loss

It is hard to imagine a time in my life when my spouse, friends, or even my children are leaving this world. Losing loved ones is a hard experience. This generation can teach you not just how to cope, but also how to mourn and celebrate a good life. They have the words of experience to comfort the morning and know what actions are most helpful not just in the first days of loss, but also the months and years to come. Their lives embody the idea that after a loss life won’t ever become normal again, but a new normal can be found.

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Perspective

Your elderly neighbors and family have lived through a lot of seasons of life. There are times in my life where I don’t have the foresight to see past the current season. I get consumed in the problems that are fleeting. Recently I had a sweet friend at choice tell me to enjoy everything that is happening today because both the positive and negative things will change by next week. Their lives are a warehouse full of experiences that add up to unique and informed understandings of the world. Even if you don’t always agree with a view, you can be sure that this person’s opinions are shaped by many life experiences. They have walked the road your own and have valuable perspective looking with a wider lens.

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History Alive

The elderly can place themselves into stories that you have only ever read about. I am amazed by the story of my grandmother’s childhood in nazi occupied Germany or my grandfather’s stories of fishing each day after school.  They make history come alive. They hold history in their memories. They remember waking their children up to watch the lunar landing or where they were when JFK died. I love asking questions about the different times that this elderly population has lived in, I could sit in listen all day.

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Full of Life

Lets not kid ourselves. The real reason to be friends with an elderly community is because they are full of life and an absolute blast. Typically I have a smile plastered across my face the entire time that I am in the company of this wise generation. The jokes are good, the candidness is real, and there is sincerity in everything. Do your self a favor and go laugh with someone who has had years of laughs.

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Demonstrate the value of every life

Paraphrasing from a homily from Pope Francis:  the elderly “have the strength to leave us a noble inheritance,” we must denounce a cultural tendency “to discard” the elderly “because they are a bother.” Instead, “the elderly are those who transmit history to us, who transmit doctrine, who transmit the faith and give it to us as an inheritance,” Life looks different at every stage and it is always valuable and worth investing in.

 

Quotes

“Wisdom is with aged men, With long life is understanding.” –Job 12:12

“The quality of a society, of a civilization, may also be judged by how it treats its elderly and by the place reserved for them in communal life. To give space to the elderly is to give space to life”-Pope Benedict XVI, 2012

“I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.”- Pope Francis addressing congress

“Even to your old age, I shall be the same, And even to your graying years I shall bear you! I have done it, and I shall carry you; And I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you.” –Isaiah 46:4

Disclaimer

You can read about what I am learning from the wise people in my life, but it doesn’t even hold a torch to seeing it in action and meeting with the elderly in your community. This is something that Stuart and I want to be better out in the coming year. Making time to call our grandparents, stop at the end of church to chat, offer some help with yard work, or maybe even visit a nursing home as a family.

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For more quick takes head over to This Aint The Lyceum.

This month is a fun linktober event, with a different question each week. This week is about a blog I have been introduced through quick takes. I think my favorite new read is Kirby from Under thy roof and Michelle  from oh the simple joys.

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Comments

  1. Amy- I couldn’t agree with you more! The older adults of our world have so much to give, contribute and share. We just have to be patient and willing to listen. There are many ways to get connected to multigenerational service opportunities in Austin and in every community. We only have to turn around or ask.

    As you know, this post means a lot to me. I loved it! Love you!

    • Was thinking about you when I wrote this post Maija. There are places in my everyday where I can press in, I am going to try and be more aware of them. Love yah!

  2. I like to say the old church ladies make my world go ’round. Because it’s true.

    No one can share your joy over a new baby, bereave a loss, or bring comfort in sickness quite like these older ladies who have done all of it before.

    Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

    • I am with you Kirby. I think that these church ladies are some of the strongest women I know. They make my family and I feel welcome and loved every week.

  3. Brava! Finally, a younger woman who gets it!! I’m only in my mid 50s, but I have already lost speaking gigs – like to high school students because I am no longer “relevant” to what they want to hear because I’m too old apparently to remember what it’s like to be a teenager. Never mind that I actually HAVE teenagers!

    I have also felt somwehat marginalized in the pre-cana talk we give because , you know, why listen to someone who has been married for decades when the latest newly wed will do. Seriously.

    Over the years I’ve come to the determination that the command to be a Titus 2 woman isn’t for the younger women, but to burn out the last bits of pride in the older women – it’s a final penance. With that in mind I no longer offer my advice or opinions unless they are requested. I guess it’s going to be a long 30 years, but hopefully I’m lessening my purgatory time.

    Anyway, it’s refreshing to read a younger woman who actually thinks that there might be some value in older people and what they have to offer. Thanks for writing such a terrific post.

    • Elena, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here.
      I think the gap we need to fill is from the idea of “I am sacrificing to be spending time with another generation” to “I have so much to gain from spending time to another generation.” We just need to find ways to connect! Thanks again for stopping by.

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