Sunday, March 25, 2007

Family and Elders

A spirited celebration of my step-father's 80th birthday was the purpose of a weekend sojourn to New Jersey. Living with and fighting against pancreatic cancer, he has had quite the year, as have we all by extension. Life-threatening illness often has a way of underscoring the importance of family, and we are no exception in this regard.

In just over a month, my father will mark his 77th birthday, and that occasion will again facilitate a gathering, a celebration, a day to acknowledge the passing of time and the ageing of our beloved elders.

There are so many elders in our society who are overlooked and forgotten. The next time you pass an older woman or man on the sidewalk, consider for a moment their plight. Are they alone? Are they loved? Are they warm? Are they fed? Are they blessed with the closeness of family, the warmth of younger generations venerating their wisdom and age and perseverance? You don't have to talk to that person if you don't want to. You don't even have to catch their eye. But really look, really see, and take into your heart that person's long road of survival until this very day when you behold them. And then remember this with the utmost certainty---you will some day walk in those shoes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, Keith. I bring my dogs (also seniors) with me everywhere I travel, and we always make time for anyone who expresses interest in them. More often than not, it's an older person, or someone who is carrying all of his or her personal belongings with them. The large dog, long of an abundant coat, is especially content to allow gnarled hands to stroke his head, his back, or his shoulder. He nudges a slow palm over his elongated muzzle, and he participates in a genuine conversation of acceptance and engagement. He has received many gifts of tears, of coos, and of far-away gazes of active reminiscence. Usually the person is so engaged with him, that it's difficult for him or her to speak or to shift focus elsewhere - a sort of spell-bound state, if you will. So these "micro-vacations" that the dogs give, to me, are very precious. Would that I could do the same so well.