Eliza Grace was born on March 15, 2006, at 26 weeks, 4 days, weighing 1 pound 4 ounces and measuring just 11.5 inches long. She is the light of my soul and this is the story of our life in the big city.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Five Minutes

I've spent a lot of time with elderly people. Definitely more than average, and, no, I don't work in a geriatric care center.

We lived with my grandparents until I was five, and then moved not more than a quarter mile away, so I saw them weekly, if not daily until I went away to college. When they were in their 90's and in nursing homes I saw them regularly. On Saba, I have always really enjoyed spending time with the older folks and doing what I call the "Old Lady Tour of Hell's Gate" (Hell's Gate being the town where our house is). I traveled every year with my elderly parents until my Dad could no longer travel. When he was in a nursing home I would visit with him every week and tried to spend time with the other residents who never had any visitors. After my Dad passed, my mom started traveling with us again. I enjoy visiting the Old Age Home on Saba.

I do not say any of this because I would like a merit badge or a gold star.

I actually like spending time with the white haired crowd and I am pleased as punch that Eliza does too.

Eliza enjoys visiting the Saba Old Age Home, enjoyed going to the home to see her Grandpa before he passed away and absolutely adores seeing her Nana every week. I think our older generation should be cherished and I am glad Eliza seems to agree.

A recent conversation with some friends prompted this post. We were talking about how there is a bit of a bright line dividing the under 60 crowd. There seems to be only two kinds of people: (a) you either like seeing/calling your older relatives and neighbors or (b) you don't give them a second thought (until shamed into it, and even then shame may not be enough to motivate a phone call or visit).

The division does not seem to be gender based since we could think of as many men as women who spent time with their older family members. Age did not seem to be a big factor either, since we could all name a good number of 25 year olds who cared but also could name an equal number who likely didn't know their grandparents' birthdates. Genetics also didn't seem to factor into who did or did not take time to reach out to their older family members. Family circumstance didn't factor into the division either.

So what does make the difference between someone who can spend five minutes a month calling an elderly parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or neighbor and someone who claims not to have those free five minutes, yet can spend 500 minutes a month texting their friends?

Watching my mother age has been a good life lesson. At almost 88 she is still pissed off that she can't do some of the things she did at 44, but still keeps on trying to do those things. She keeps her mind sharp and her heart open. She still remembers to send cards to everyone on their birthdays, even to those who forget her birthday, or can't find those five minutes to call. She still musters the strength to give Eliza piggy back rides and teaches Eliza the finer points of gardening. She may not have a computer but she sure as hell knows that people spend way too much time on "Spacebook."

How can a person not find five minutes a month for someone like that? Actually five minutes a day would not kill anyone, but I have set the bar pretty low here.

And if you can't find those five minutes for an elderly person in your life, who do you think is going to call you when you are old and gray?

Getting off my soap box now and returning to our regularly scheduled blogging.


Barb said...

I'm with you. Some of the most meaningful connections I've made in my life were because of 5 minutes I spent with an elderly person... the old man who was lost in the Byerly's parking lot, the 82-year-old woman who was flying to Hawaii all by herself, the ex-boyfriend's mother who was fighting pneumonia in the hopsital, my own father during his last year of life. People from the previous generation operate at a different speed, and it is a beautiful thing to slow down and treasure a moment or two with them. Thanks for a great soapbox post. I love your soapbox posts!

Sarah said...

Tell your mother than I'm commenting on this because I saw it on spacebook lol. For the record, I heart the 'old folks.' My grandfather had the greatest stories, including the fact that he used to sell newspapers for John Looney, and drove himself to New York from Illinois by himself when he was 93. Emery calls everyone with gray hair he sees 'gramma or grampa' and they love it lol!

Catherine W said...

Yay for your mother! She sounds like a very special soul. I hope Eliza appreciates those piggy back rides!

My grandma e-mailed me consistently for over a decade across continents. I am so glad that she took the time to learn the new technology and I'm sure, if she was still alive, she would be all spacebooked up too! I do miss her. I think part of me is still waiting for her next e-mail!

Laraf123 said...

Great post--I agree with you. I love hearing about your mom, by the way. She sounds amazing!