Monday, July 12, 2021

Why I Need Older and Younger People in My Life

On Friday, we celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Originally, they had wanted to have a big party and I looked forward to organizing everything. I even booked a venue. But then COVID changed everything; our priorities, our plans, and even our outlook on life. As it turns out, a small, intimate dinner felt much more special and meaningful to me, and I think for my parents, too, than a large blowout party would have been. My parents were high school sweethearts and have been together since then. They're such an example of love and genuine care. They're such a blessing in my life and in my daughters' lives.

The pandemic made me think about people who represent the word “essential” to me. I don’t mean essential in the sense of essential workers, I am talking about the glue that makes our society what it is. I’ve come to the conclusion that young children and the elderly are the most essential members of our community. 

Growing up surrounded by adults gave me life experiences that I treasure. To this day, I enjoy the company (and the stories!) of the elderly. They’re honest, real, and possess wisdom that I hope to be able to share with others one day. Until I was 7 or 8, I lived right next door to my great-grandparents. I spent hours in the attic of their house, marveling at all of the books and treasures tucked in each niche. My love of language and travel began in that attic, playing solo games of Parchesi, “the ancient game of India” and trying to decipher books written in Latin and Greek. I spent hours on the swing, talking with my Grandma. 

We lived in a small town, and I enjoyed being able to go back and forth between the two houses. Even though the front door was almost always unlocked, I knew that the same skeleton hanging in my kitchen would open anyone’s door. I walked to my piano lessons by myself every week, and knew that a treat or warm smile would greet me at any door. My Uncle Clark lived next to the piano teacher and was another fabulous conversationalist and storyteller. He told things like they were and had high expectations for himself and everyone around him. An elderly person has the time and the desire to share and talk with others. 

As a teen and a young adult, I confidently believed that I knew about life. But now, I realize how much wisdom comes with age and experience. The stories and life experiences of the elderly give us an example and guide for life. 

At the other end of the spectrum, children bring a different kind of joy and innocence to our society. Children are honest, and sometimes it’s not pretty, but it’s honesty in the purest form. A child makes friends easily and instantly. A child loves freely and unconditionally. As an adult, it’s difficult to cultivate new friendships. But just like the elderly, children possess a certain openness to share, to befriend, and to engage with others, without judgment. 

Pre-pandemic, I found myself being “too busy” to take time to enjoy life and the company of others. I spent more time texting and scrolling than talking. The past year and a half has helped me to realize the value of relationships and living joyfully. Now, I prefer to talk with people. Making time for myself and for others is a priority. Experiences and joy bring happiness. My priorities have shifted...for the better. 

Elderly people and children remind me to stop and smell the roses. To enjoy and savor every moment. To live life fully and take a twirl every once in a while.


  1. Your post came at a time when I needed it. Thank you. This year I have been trying to do a bit more self care. But of course always felt like I was being selfish. At the end of last month we lost my mother. My father passed 3 1/2 yrs ago. The pandemic had been hard on her--no she did not have Covid. It was hard because I am one of 7 siblings. My mother had 12 grandchildren. She was unable to see many of us thru this whole sitution. My mother lived with one of my brothers and my husband and I would visit often. She was able to see one of her grandsons graduate from college and a granddaughter graduate from high school in the weeks prior to her passing via--the internet live stream. It broke my heart though because she was in the hospital and that is where she passed and due to covid restrictions we were unable to be with her at that time.
    So you are right to say --stop and smell the roses as you do not know what will happen next.

    1. Self care is not selfish; you can't care for others until you care for yourself. It sounds like you've had such a challenging year and I am very sorry for your loss. Sending you love, stength, and peace.



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