Column Post by Lakin Easterling
My line of work is unexpected, and certainly not what I thought I’d be doing any time in my life. I am a companion to the elderly, most of who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s or any of the other 80-90 dementia-related diseases.
One man thinks he’s in his 20’s, before he lost his legs in World War II. Another man can’t remember words and frequently makes up his own to describe things. There’s a lady who believes she’s six years old, and her mommy is on her way to pick her up from her friend’s house. They are frail, they are broken, and they place their confidence in me.
I hear their stories.
But do I listen?
We are a strange breed, young people, who believe we know all there is to know about the world. And if anyone tells us otherwise, well, they’re just wrong and close-minded and ignorant. No one has lived through what we’ve lived through, no one can understand how different the times are now, and you’d better not tell me to put some pants on or I’ll punch you in the mouth.
We are also a strange breed, the older generation, who believe we know all there is to know about the world, and the young’uns are just naïve and ignorant and stubborn, and will never listen unless we shout, will never see past any given current situation unless it’s spelled out for them completely. Young people won’t live through the hardships we’ve lived through, or understand how different times were for us, or listen when we tell our granddaughters to put some pants on.
See the problem here? See the chasm that is caused not by age, but by a cunning enemy?
The elders of our time know things. They have experience; they have gained knowledge and perspective. The young men and women of our time have eagerness and energy to plow forth in life, to squeeze it and make the world look like they want it to, to be the best they can be. When older people look down on young people, when young people turn a deaf ear to their elders, the rift spreads and seams are ripped and we will never know what we are meant to know.
There is much to be gained by listening to one another—not just young people talking through life and sharing stories with each other, or elders sitting off by themselves to recall their golden days (although those are good things and should be done)—but that’s not all that should be done.
There needs to be a threading of wisdom and tenacity, for the sake of all. There needs to be an understanding that elders are still experiencing, are still learning from life. There needs to be a conclusion among the minds of the young that they will be able to do and become the best they can with the help and guidance of someone who has done this before.
Elders, applaud the efforts of the young, and they will grow strong and fearless. They will grow ears to hear you.
Young people, appreciate the efforts of the elders, and they will sweeten and soften and share their life’s glory gladly.
Acknowledge one another.
Let me say that again: acknowledge one another.
Don’t pass by, huff and sniff and turn your head. Don’t think you’re better, just because you’ve lived longer, or because you’ve lived less.
We are all the same here. We are people, and we need each other’s perspectives in order to grow and flourish.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” ~James 1:19
I encourage you to seek out someone whose opinions you may consider to be prejudiced, based on your age or theirs, on the differences in your walks of life. Ask to hear his/her story, and really, really listen. You’ll be surprised by what you hear, and by what the storyteller will be willing to hear from you.
P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts; be sure to share in the comments section below. This month we will draw TEN winners from our commenters and the winners will receive one of these two books, Hope for a Hurting Heart or To Let You Know I Care by our featured author this month, Cheryl Karpen.
Lakin Easterling is a wife, mother, writer, and avid reader. She spends her days chasing her toddler, Belle, and conversing with the elderly who are afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. She loves surprise coffee dates with her husband Luke, texting novels to her best friend, Laura Hyers, and being a college student. She dreams about being brave enough to get a tattoo, and believes in the healing power of a good cup of coffee. Her favorite nail polish is Sail Away by Milani. She blogs at http://threadingsymphonies.wordpress.com.
Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)