I had planned to post the second article on location today, but I felt impressed to share something else very important. I will post location, location, location tomorrow.
One of my great aunts died a few days ago. We weren’t extremely close, but I always liked her and enjoyed spending time with her. She was in her early eighties. I was home in Mississippi for a few days at Thanksgiving and I had planned to go visit her and my great uncle. I haven’t seen them in a few years and I was looking forward to just sitting and talking for a while. They both really liked to talk and I always learned something from them every time I visitied. Instead, we all got busy with other things and before I knew it the time we had was gone. I never went to see them. Now my aunt is gone and I will never have that conversation with her.
A few years ago, I had been living in California and moved back to Mississippi for a while. I looked forward to spending hours talking with my grandfather and recording the things he would say to me. Unfortunately, he unexpectedly passed away about a month before I moved. I had had a great conversation with him a few months earlier, but I had looked forward to so many more that will now never happen.
This is a great loss for several reasons. Most older people crave company from the younger people who look up to them with respect. This was very true for both my great aunt and my grandfather. Just in the course of being compassionate human beings, we should spend time with them. It makes them happy. They have spent their entire lives giving to other people so we should be willing to give just a little of our time to them.
On a more selfish level, we should want to spend time with them to learn. Most older people have a great deal of knowledge to pass on to us if we will just take the time to let them tell us. This is especially true for those of us who with to be more self-sufficient and have elderly relatives or neighbors who lived in a rural setting. Many of them have lived through the Great Depression and gained a lot of knowledge and experience about being self-sufficient. Many of them wouldn’t have survived if they hadn’t been pretty self-sufficient.
Let me step outside my own bias for a minute. It is not only our rural ancestors we can learn from. My mother-in-law grew up in the heart of urban Baltimore and her family always grew gardens and raised chickens in the yard. A number of her extended family were self-employed and understood well how to take care of themselves and their families in a pretty self-sufficient manner.
Our ancestors who tamed this wild country and endured its harder times were very self-reliant. They had numerous practical skills that have been all but lost today. When these people are gone, that knowledge will go with them. But if we will just take the time to sit down with them and let them talk, some of it will be passed on.
I have missed that opportunity with two fantastic older relatives in the past few years. I am resolved to spend more time with those older people around me learning valuable lessons from their experience and hopefully brightening their lives just a little bit in the process. I hope you will do the same.
Please leave a comment. What have you learned from the older people in your family or neighborhood? Have you missed opportunities by being too “busy”?