Last week I sat down and talked with my Grandparents. Some of you may be saying “Why?” or “Good for You!” or “What happened?” In today’s fast-paced world, those are frequently some of the responses to that exact statement. We’ve given up on a well-proven saying: “Respect your Elders.” I heard my mother say it over and over to us when we were little. We didn’t dare mess with our grandparents; they were the smartest people we knew. Grandpa knew how to fix everything and no bakery in town bested grandma! Recently I have realized that there are a lot of other elders around us. The older woman who lives down the street from my grandma, at eighty years old, loves to prune her small vineyard, keeps up with computers, loves genealogy, and is still smarter then the teenager talking to her. My husband’s grandmother has Alzheimers. She is not a lost cause; she still sews, even if she can’t remember she made that same thing yesterday. She gardens, and knows more about plants then I ever will, and though she may not remember I’m still here when she leaves the room, she still remembers WWII.
We have given up on learning from the past. We leave our elders in rest homes, or retirement communities. We could compare that to leaving an encyclopedia of experience in the attic. The experiences of our older community give great perspective on today. The politics, the environment, the war, we are losing our future because we are ignoring our past. I visit my grandparents frequently; they always seem to know what’s wrong and how to fix it. They’re the best therapists I know, frequently giving the advice; buck up and move on, life does! So I am. Moving on in my life, with the help and memories of my older neighbors, my grandparents, and friends who have lived through births, deaths, tragedy, depressions, wars and events I am afraid of, because of my ignorance. But I hope I can do better because of their experience.