Lately I've been thinking about how void the public squares are of children and old people — especially during the daytime "work hours." Our society tends to lock these types of people away all day, behind closed doors with other people their same age — in the places that are "natural" and "better for them."
When the kids and I do meet an elderly person at the grocery store or park, I make certain to stop and chat for as long as I can — exposing my children to this generation of people, their wisdom, their fragility, their love for friendship and companionship, their delight in little children. How can it be normal to disregard, at least in action and attention, such a valuable portion of our society?
We recently went with our eldest son's Cub Scout Troop to sing Christmas Carols at an old folks' home. My three-year old asked me (hopefully everyone there was too deaf to hear him), "Mama, why everybody here dead?"
Oh my goodness! After a quick reminder to him that we will all die some day, I explained that the people there were very old, but were not dead. But, to tell you the truth, the place felt pretty dead. It wasn't a place I would look forward living any time soon. Though I am sure Bingo or Bible Study with senior gals my age will be a blast, being locked up with them in an institution doesn't look like fun.
It got me thinking about how many people begin to live like they are dead way before the Angel of Death comes a-knocking. I made a NOTE TO SELF: If at all possible, live in such a way that I will not flicker out like an old candle — I want to go out in a blaze of glory!
How have old folks' homes become so typical? I UNDERSTAND that homes for the elderly are an absolute need for some people, especially for medical reasons. But we have taken what should be a last resort and made it average, inevitable, and desirable. We've all seen the bumper sticker, "Be Nice to Your Children; They'll Choose Your Nursing Home."
My mantra instead is, "Value and enjoy your time with your young and simple-minded children now, for if you do, they will value and enjoy time with you when you are old and feeble-minded."
One of my family members mentioned that he would prefer to be in a nursing home so that the people he loves won't have to bathe and feed him, should he deteriorate to such a level. Of course, wiping faces and bottoms isn't Number One on most people's entertainment list, but guess what? Love stinks! I am willing to take care of my mom and dad in any way they need. They did it for me, and I can do it for them.
I once had a neighbor, dear old Bertha, who had 6 children — five of them sons. Even though her husband died at a young age, Bertha never had to worry about money. She never had to mow her lawn or hire a lawn service. If the plumbing needed fixing or the roof leaked, one of those boys was over in a jiffy.
What happened to old-fashioned retirement plan of having children and raising them well? It worked for Bertha, and I hope it will work for me.
Love Stinks – or What Goes Around Comes Around