I guess the time has come as I knew it would: I am officially a 'fuddy duddy'!
Growing up, I was encouraged to spend time with the elderly in my extended family. (Part of this was by necessity as I am the youngest Grandchild from both sides of my family - Some of my cousins are decades older than me). Also, since my parents had me later in life, I always accompanied them to family functions. Sometimes I was the only child there. I loved the attention and the animation of the older generation telling their stories and history. I could almost smell the scents and hear the noises that they were so vividly talking about.
I asked questions to hear more. I wanted to see pictures (most of the time there were no pictures at all - pictures were for special occasions only) I wanted to take the walk down the 'back trail' and see the crooked oak tree with initials carved in it. Most of all, I wanted to feel a connection between the generations.
I was very close to my 'Granny Clarke' (who later became Great Granny Clarke or G.G.C) and spent as much time as my busy schedule would allow. Once I earned my driver's license, I would always volunteer to drive the 20 minutes to get her or take her home from family get togethers. It was great to spend that special time with her. I loved it even more when I had a car full of 'the ladies' coming over and listening to their giggles and laughs as they teased me about boys. Or even more fun, as I teased them about the old men in the apartment building.
I was probably the only teenager that I know of that would go visit Granny on a date. We would stop in to the apartment to go for a swim on a Friday night before we would go for a late dinner or a movie. The ladies would all be sitting around the table playing Euchre (having a drink or two) and the TV would be tuned into whatever sports was on (It was REALLY loud if it was hockey so that they could hear the play by play over the excitement of the card game). The ladies would try to keep track of what was trump, who just scored and how I was doing in school while my Granny corrected them all and never missed a beat!
So, why am I writing about this today? Spending time with these Octogenarians in my life taught me patience and that most times the older generation has some great advice to give. I am ashamed of this younger generation that can't seem to give of themselves to their elders. A 20 minute visit that disrupts more than anything isn't cool. Go and pick up Grandma and Grandpa and take them to do groceries - help them to plan a few meals and gather the ingredients (better yet, cook the meal with them or for them). Take them for a drive on a beautiful evening to see the Christmas lights. Don't just pop in and spring this plan on them. Call ahead the day before and make a date, so that they can prepare. Take them to Mass on Sunday morning. The repetition in a conversation can be frustrating, but the conversation is the important part. Don't take these people for granted. Thank those around you for helping you become you. Good or bad, every situation in our lives help form who we are. You are not extra special although every one of us is unique. They were once like you. They were young and went to parties. They had to juggle their time too. The difference is that they respected their elders. They said please and thank you. They sat and wrote out in their best handwriting 'thank you' cards for EVERY gift they got (without any spelling errors). They dressed up in their Sunday best just to visit friends. They called people around them Mr. and Mrs., Uncle and Aunt, Grandpa and Grandma, Dr. and Mrs. and even Captain and Mrs.! The feeling was that those around you earned these names and should be respected and called by them. Never were you to call someone of another generation by their first name!!!
Manners seems to be a forgotten art. Parents don't teach children respect and they should! By learning to respect others, you will learn to respect yourself. Go out and party with your friends. Go ahead and dream of a bright future. Go ahead and shop 'til you drop for all of the newest electronics. BUT, and this is a big BUT, don't ignore the past generations. They are the ones that worked so hard to ensure that you are where you are! The old man with the 13 inch television and only 20 channels is worth sitting and watching TV with. He just might have a story to tell and that story may just be a part of your future in that it may trigger a thought that will change the world. You have more formal education than the majority of this older generation, but they are so better educated than you!!! They went to the school of life and learned all of the lessons that were offered!