Monday, October 10, 2011

old(er) people

Let me just start this post by documenting an exchange my husband and I had this morning. I told him for my birthday I would like to take a trip to the beach. We have not yet seen the ocean from a Texas point of view. We've been here two years and haven't made the trip. There is a good chance we'll be leaving here before the next summer is upon us. I think it's worth the drive as this might be a one time thing.

It looks like rain.
Do we really want to spend six hours in the car in one day?
With our children?
Does that seem like a good way to spend a birthday?

I suggested a trip to Austin instead.

We could hit the food trucks.
And go antiquing.

"You're married to one," he said, wisely.
Before I could get the thought out of my head, "It's a good thing you said that instead of, 'You are one,'" he followed up with, "I could hand you a mirror and save ourselves the trip."

I laughed, but inside I was thinking, "Ass."

Back to the point of the post. Let me preface this with, I mean no disrepect at all when I say old or older people. I'm just talking about a group of folk who have happened to live on this earth longer than I have.

I relate with them. I tend to be more comfortable with them. Older people and I, we click. Some of my best friends are Vic and Sara, who happen to be closer to my grandparents age than my own. I love a 90 year old man, Sean's Grandpa, in a way I've never loved anyone. I think it's because older people tell you exactly how they feel. They don't mince words. They've lived through things I'll probably never have to and I respect that. I respect their views on life, their experience.

I seem to have passed this character trait along to Simon. Living in an RV park does tend to adjust his peer group, after all, so it may just be his friendly personality that his him all up in the business of old people. His newest friend is a little old lady that rides around on a motorized cart with her two pomeranians on the back.

Today I spent a few hours(yes, hours) on the phone with Sean's Oma. You wanna talk about an opinionated older woman? :) I love it, though. She cracks me up. She has done a lot in her life and when she talks, I listen. Actually, she doesn't give much opportunity to do anything but listen. Her stories are amazing. Having grown up in Germany, she has lived what we can only read about.

It makes me wonder just how fascinating our stories will be to future generations? We live such a cushy life, what do we have to pass on? What with our ipods and credit card lifestyles. We're spoiled. My generation lives a bumper sticker theology, a facebook status. We don't stand for anything. We don't represent anything worthwhile. We don't even defend the loose views we do have. If we don't like a response, we just X out. We're concerned with name brands, not putting food on the table. We don't save, we take on debt. We don't work extra jobs to keep our family afloat, we take handouts.

Old people, they stand for something. They helped their neighbors. They said hello for no other reason than to be cordial. They don't cross the street to avoid the confrontation of a friendly conversation.

A disturbing thread I am seeing with my generation is that we don't value old people. Sean's Oma relayed her life and the life of Sean's Grandpa as "living in a cage." They have to depend on others. It broke my heart when she told me Sean's Grandpa asks for rides from his neighbor to get to the doctor. I understand neighbors being helpful, but I should be there. I should be the one carting him around. We're family.

One thing Vic said to me the other day that struck a chord, "You listen when I talk." I have noticed that people tend to be completely distracted when carrying on a conversation. Is it too hard to give someone your undivided attention? Is answering a text more important than someone standing face to face with you? Is this what texting and email and typing to communicate has done to us? I find myself texting more than calling(mostly due to obnoxious children) and I've stunted my communication skills. The ebb and flow of conversations aren't there as much as clever one liners these days.

I just think when someone who has been there, done that is's worth listening. Maybe it's just the way I was raised.

Listen when people talk.
Look people in the eye.
Respect your elders; for their history, for what they know, for the years they've put in on this earth.
Take care of your family.
Give help, even if they refuse it.
Never make family feel like a burden.

I think we just get used to people being here. Old people just get older. Dads become Grandpas and Great Grandpas. They do die, eventually. It's just a fact of life; nobody escapes death. Why not make the most of what time we have together? I don't want to live in the past. I would rather live now than talk about, "Remember when?" Love now.

This post was every bit for me. A reminder to myself to not get so busy with nothingness that I can't make a phone call, a lunch date, drop some pictures in the mail to my older friends. I want to be kind to history. Disconnect to connect, that kinda thing.


Jude said...

i have always been SO glad we sat down my gramma and great aunt and uncle and asked them about their lives. otherwise we wouldn't have alot of the information we do. I wish I had asked more though... they lived through so much!

happy day :)

Brown English Muffin said...

I think from this post I already see what you're focusing're focusing on what you do have, what is around you rather than what unanswered questions await you....

I like what I see.

Chrissy did you ever imagine you'd be such a strong influence with your normal day thoughts and words?

I'm still to this day loving my food life change and don't miss fast food one bit....yet! LOL