- Aging & Longevity
A Grandparent's Legacy
Lest we forget...
As a child, I remember attending the many tea parties, luncheons, and garden parties that my grandmother, a member of the Eastern Star, threw for friends, family, and Eastern Star members. I wasn't allowed to just run around like a typical six year old does today. Oh no, back in the day, it was expected (even at that tender age) that I help. Generally, that meant my 'job' was to run errands for the ladies and gentlemen attending the soiree. I delivered tea cups, spoons, serviettes, the occasional tray of goodies, cleared side plates, and once I was even asked to 'entertain the 'troops' with my trusty ukulele.
I must admit to feeling quite grown up - giving a 'concert' in front of my grandmother's friends, who were thrilled with my performance. Ah to be six again!
I spent my formative years learning to be of service not only to others, but to the older generation, as, of course, my granny's friends, and our family members were mostly in their 60's and older. (To a six year old, anyone with gray hair and wrinkles was old!)
I also learned, at a tender age, that these mature men and women appreciated every little service I performed. Whether it was simply taking a plate into the kitchen for them, passing a tray of teeny tiny sandwiches, or finding a Kleenex, everything I did was rewarded with a smile and sincere "Thank you dear."
These small gestures of appreciation stuck with me, and I admit it felt good to be helpful.
My granny was fond of "Thank you darling," which was my personal favourite.
This in turn, fostered positive reinforcement, so that as I grew older, I retained the desire to be of assistance to my elders. I open doors, pack groceries, make phone calls, carry bags, anything that needs doing at that time to help make their day a little brighter, or less stressed. It is not a habit, but a way of life for me. I will go out of my way to offer a helping hand - whether it is helping someone cross the street, or putting a scooter together in a parking lot.
Sometimes I don't have to do anything except listen.
Later in life, before my son was born, I was fortunate to be chosen as a volunteer at an Extended Care facility at my local hospital. Every week, I would help plan a special luncheon, as well as cook and serve it to many of the residents. After desert, I stayed to play tile rummy with a few of the ladies, (who soundly trumped me,) and listened as they shared their histories with me. It was both a rewarding and enriching experience that I treasure to this day.
Those few minutes were worth more than cooking and serving the meal. I truly enjoyed their company.
When I think back on all the years I spent helping my granny with her garden parties, and basking in the glow of her friends and family members, I realise how lucky I was to be part of something that is rarely, if ever, seen in this day and age. I was welcomed and gently schooled in the now forgotten, (or so it seems), art of etiquette. The lessons I learned at my granny's knee have served me well, and made me a better person.
I appreciate the wisdom and knowledge that is passed down to following generations, if we only take the time to listen. A very wise man once said, "Just because there is snow on the roof, doesn't mean there isn't a fire within."
So many young people don't realize how enjoyable it spending time with seniors. They have so much to share and most of them have a wicked sense of humor!
I can remember the first time I visited an Asian friend of mine. I was in my early twenties, and was surprised when, after being introduced to her grandparents, I discovered that they lived in the same house. This aspect of their culture was one that I thought would be good to adopt. There would be little need for "old folks homes" as our elderly population would be cared for by their families.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for many of our seniors, and as our population ages, we are forced to seek positive solutions for their care and attention. It doesn't take much effort to volunteer a few hours of our time to brighten someone's day. It doesn't cost an arm or a leg to bring enjoyment to someone's life. It only costs time.
The rewards are amazing and you feel like the most popular person in the world!
To quote a line from a song, "Spread a little love today, Give them something to remember..." this is something that everyone can do. You don't need to be rich, or educated, just willing to spend some time. You might be surprised at how enriching it is to "spread a little love"...
Now that my children have grown and moved away, I find I have more time to devote to the little things in life - one of which is volunteering a couple of hours a week at a senior's residence. I attend every Wednesday for afternoon tea. Once a month there is a birthday party for everyone born in that particular month, and there are balloons, flowers, cake and music. Everyone has a great time, but I'm pretty sure that I have more fun than anyone else there.
It is just as enjoyable now as it was when I was younger. Even more so now because I sing and dance around the tables when I serve tea and cookies, and enjoy the smiles and laughter as they watch me cavort around with a teapot in my hand.