Thought I’d share the article that was published this week in a Senior Forum newspaper in my region. Submitted this last week and was very excited to see my guest column. Hope you enjoy.
Published August 19, 2008.
Greetings from the other end of the spectrum! As a twenty-three year old it may seem I have little to contribute to a publication that focuses on the needs of seniors. Three years ago I would have agreed with you. In 2005, I was a college senior, far from worried about social security benefits, the cost of medication or family legacies.
But a single decision has brought me miles from that place; 3,000 miles to be precise. When I finished college in Virginia I was dazed and confused; I had no earthly idea what to do after 16 years of advisers telling me what class to take next, what internship to apply for next, what dorm to move to next. There was no suggested class schedule for life.
The options were intimidating. In my mind moving home was for losers and finding a job and thus moving away from the comfort of friends and family scared me out of my recently education mind. I could just keep going to school which would involve more loan debt and less idea what I wanted to do with my life. I could join the peace corps but I don’t look good in green.
Somehow, in the chaos of determining my life’s path, I came to the decision to move to Sacramento with the goal of caring for my grandparents in exchange for a reduced rent room and the opportunity to delay those life altering decision another few years. Surprisingly that was the life altering decision I’d been afraid of making.
As I’ve spent time in the past 26 months caring for my grandparents I have come to a certain appreciation of their lives, their lifestyles and their choices. You may have been blessed with children and subsequently grandchildren. If you’re lucky you may even have a positive relationship with some of them. Even if you don’t know the details of each grandchild’s school and hobbies and dreams allow me to share my take on the generation at the other end of the spectrum.
My generation is stubborn. We’re largely idiots who want it all without paying our dues, we talk in numbers and symbols (if U kno LOL) and have little understanding of our history. For example, I knew my grandparents had never travelled internationally to exotic locales. But thumbing through photo albums I realized they’d used every vacation to visit family across the nation, going to Dollywood and St. Louis and driving through redwoods always with family.
Until she was unable to drive my Grandmother travelled about town in a 1991 Olds. I thought it was ugly, the seats creaked and it had enough cat hair on the hood to genetically engineer a new Fluffy. But there was the evidence in her financial records and thank you cards of a half dozen used cars bought for us grandkids when we were young and freshly licensed.
In a world when everything seems to be drive-thru to get through the day my Grandma was a proponent of home cooked meals, fresh produce straight from the farm and ice cream for dessert. My Grandpa was a proponent of taking her out for a hamburger, treating his friends and co-workers to a meal and ignoring his diabetes meter in favor of a birthday celebration with a friend.
Every day in a hundred ways I see the evidence of my grandparent’s values. Many of those are values that I want to espouse in my own life. None of this came to me in a grand “let me tell you about life lessons, girlie” speech. It came as I helped Grandma prepare a homemade meal, as I drove Grandpa to his support meetings and Grandma to church. The lessons flooded in with cards from family, photo alums on the shelf and watching them live simple, beautiful lives.
I don’t know you all personally but I do know some of your children, your grandchilden, maybe even your great-grandchildren. In many ways we’re lost in the noise of advertising and programming and the busyness of life. Please, for me, for my peers and friends, make some iced tea, sit on the porch swing and share your wisdom.