I believe in chatting with the elderly. While as a child I always respected the elderly but it took me until the age of sixteen to realize that the words they speak are like audio history books.
When I was sixteen I worked at an infomercial agency. I took calls from people all over the world that ordered products. The usual calls were indecisive callers. I had been trained to go through proper procedures to handle this kind of calls but never for my next call.
I stated the repetitive greeting that seemed beaten into my mind. It was an old man from Brooklyn, New York. I waited for him to say what item he wanted to purchase but there was a long pause of just him breathing. Fed up with the perverted callers, my finger was a second away from pressing the end button, but then, he said “Dear?” I didn’t know what to think or how to respond, but I detected sincerity and sadness in his voice, so I did not end the call. I began to repeat my greeting but was interrupted. He just wanted to chat for a moment. I thought why not- he seems harmless, and this would give me a break from the psychotic callers that usually filled my morning. He said he was calling from a nursery home in Brooklyn. His family stopped visiting and calling five years ago. He just needed someone to talk to.
He told me stories of how he went to every Yankees game growing up. He reminisced over how a decent meal could be purchased for less than a dollar. He remembered the riots in Harlem. He told his stories as if everything happened yesterday. When he told me all of this I felt as though I was with him when it all happened. This was better that reading history books in the dullness of classrooms. I was excited to hear from someone who actually lived through those events. I wasn’t just listening to his memories; I talked to him.
By the end of our conversation, his mood changed. He now was joyful. The old man thanked me several times for taking the time to listen and chat. We said our goodbyes and wished each other the best.
At that moment I realized the elderly are the one that can give a history lesson without the boring text books. Their memories invoke feelings when spoken through passion. More than anything, it is you that give them happiness by just lending your and sharing your thoughts. Their bodies may be old and their vision is faded but that’s no reason to neglect their thoughts and conversations. Chatting with them can give a person happiness, life lessons, and advice.
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