This I Believe

Helen - St. Louis, Missouri
Entered on November 5, 2007

This I Believe

I staggered my way to the train’s dining car and was directed to a table occupied

by two men. One was younger than me; the other considerably older. We said “Good

morning”, scanning our menus during which time I’m thinking, “Breakfast with two

strangers. This could be interesting”. This thought was followed by a split-second

awareness of having less expectation of the older gentleman. Only when writing this did

it occur to me that I had violated one of my beliefs – that age counts. Older persons have

weathered years with stories and wisdom we need to hear.

So subtle is the conditioning that results in being part of a society blind to what

those advanced in years have to offer. Why are we not listening to what they have to tell

us? Why are these “Life Experts” seen as no longer valuable? I ask these questions as I

enter the 66th year of my own sojourn, aware that advancing in age has prepared me for so

much more.

I come to each new day with a wiser perspective, having experienced multiple life

changes, the most painful being the death of my husband. My priorities have shifted,

I’ve redefined what is worthy of my time and energy. I’m more able to accept the truth

of what “is” and who I am with strengths and limitations. But I’ve also caught up with

that group our society so readily dismisses. I’m now one of thousands of seniors who do

not fit the role in which society casts us.

I believe that age counts. True, there are people who have not evolved as persons

while advancing in age. They are difficult to deal with. Many have suffered hardships

with no resources to ease their pain.

I understand the need for facilities for those unable to live alone or who have

limitations requiring extra care with no one at home able or willing to provide that care.

I’m also painfully aware that some older persons abandoned to traditional nursing homes

define themselves as helpless and worthless. The current trend toward communal living

during these years is so hopeful.

I believe we are wasting valuable resources when we refuse our Sages a place in

society where they can contribute, inspire, mentor, encourage, teach. Let’s create

“Think-Tanks” composed of our Wise Ones to benefit our schools, businesses, churches

and other organizations. These men and women are potential “adjunct professors”. They

have earned their “Life Degree”.

I believe we are less complete in our families, schools, churches, workplaces

when we fail to solicit the input of our Elders. I believe that as one of those Elders, I

have more to give back to the community. I could be your sister, coach, mentor, friend.

I believe we have a mutual need for each other. As for the older gentleman on the train I

was so ready to dismiss – I learned that he was a retired physician donating his services to

a charitable organization.