Stories of the Forgotten
I believe that everyone deserves to have their story remembered: even the elderly. The elderly have so many amazing stories with great lessons that shouldn’t be forgotten and instead should be passed on from generation to generation.
I volunteer at Hundred Palms, a retirement home in Tucson. Every time I step foot inside I see all the loneliness, the loneliness that comes with being left. After being dropped off, some elderly are forced to make new friends or live in solitude until their dying day.
This is where I come in. Playing an intense game of scrabble, making root beer floats or just being there to talk about the obstacles they have overcome, are just the small things I give back to the people that shaped our world.
With each story I see the horror, the happiness, the fun times, and the times of serious doubt that somehow changed for the better that have shaped their lives, and in turn ours. If these stories from the elderly are forgotten then some of the greatest lessons cannot be taught and instead will disappear with time. It is all the small things that teach the greatest lessons, like a grandfather discussing what happened, “back in my day.”
One story that will always stick in my mind is when the topic of marriage arose. This man began to talk to me about how his wife had a spunky attitude, along with the red ferocious hair. He began to enter his own world remembering the day he was proposed too, because she didn’t want to wait forever. Even though she had died five years ago he could recall her features as an eighteen year old, the way she made him feel, and the immense love that connected them. With his rant about all his wife had done, because she wouldn’t take no for answer, I realized how much we need to hear the stories that shape others’ lives. With this story, I realized that to accomplish true happiness you must have the strength to stand up for what you believe in.
This realization also helped me see how simple happiness can be achieved. An hour of playing games and listening to a story puts a smile on their faces, and that is what I want to see.
Age should bring fulfillment, memories, and love. Love is shown through the simple things. By showing up once a month just to sit and talk, that’s love. It’s not the only love, but it is the only love that I seem to be able to offer to the hundreds of people that are being forgotten.
This I believe… that by listening to their stories every time I come to see these wonderful people, I will be able to pass on a little knowledge that might have been forgotten forever.
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