As a pastor’s son, I have the opportunity to go with my father on many visits to those in the hospital and elderly people that do not get out much. As I sit and listen to these people talk, my eyes wander around their room. Most elderly folk’s homes have antiques and glass decorations of all kinds. Pictures of grandchildren and great grandchildren adorn many of the walls and mantles of these people.
Not long ago I went to drop off something at the house of an elderly lady. She is moving and is having a yard sale to get rid of most of the things she won’t have room for. These items were spread across tables, counters, chairs and anything that had room to hold something.
Looking over these I realized that here, sitting before me was a lifetime of memories and experiences all in one house. Each item had its own story and special memory to this person.
My thoughts wandered to how many experiences and situations this particular lady had gone through. Then I broadened it to the older generation. How many stories do they have to tell? How much wisdom do they have to grant us?
I recall a time when I was at a nursing home a few years ago for a small music concert myself and a few others my age put on for them. I got to talking to an older gentleman and he mentioned that he had been in a World War (I cannot remember the exact one, but I am guessing World War II as most veterans of World War I are no longer living).
This immediately piqued my interest. I inquired of him where he had served and what it had been like. He replied that he served in France and went on to describe how he remembers the enemy was throwing gas canisters at him and his comrades and they were forced to put on gas masks. He went on to describe other details.
This was rather intriguing so I asked him a question concerning the war. He answered it and went right back to the beginning describing the gas warfare. I was saddened to see that he was starting to lose some of his memory, but I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with him nonetheless.
All of this made me realize how much the older generation has to offer the younger. Think about it. What if the older generation passed on its experiences on life, choices they’ve made, and what to avoid? I believe the human race as a whole would benefit so much more if the older and younger generations could “compare notes” so to speak.
You may be thinking right now, “well why hasn’t the older generation been sharing with the younger?” This is a very good question.
My thought is for one, the younger generation is stubborn and ignorant. It always has been and always will. Who are those older folk to tell us how to live our lives? But on the other side of the spectrum, the older generation may think (and this is just speculation) that they don’t have anything to offer or they are just bitter and see young “whippersnappers” as ignorant and wild beings with no care for anything. While this is partially true, there are many of us that would love to benefit from the wisdom of the elderly.
I guess the moral of all of this is, if you are young like me, the next time you see an older person you know (or don’t), ask them questions. Many times they are very glad to talk to you. Break the stereotype that is set on us and discuss with them what their life has been like. You may learn a thing or two.
If you are one of those that are in your later years, bestow on us your wisdom. You have so much to tell, so many stories. You have lived through great technological and culture changes and we would love and need to hear all about all of this. Some of us that are more stubborn may not want to listen.
As for me, I will sit down and listen to anything that would enlighten me to the fact of what secrets exist inside your minds.