Even though it has been very hot in Lee County the past two weeks, I love the way our citizens cope and find ways to deal with this Central Alabama heat. One of those ways is embracing the typical quick and fleeting rain showers. As I look at young children playing happily with squeals of delight in the puddles after a shower, I love the way they teach us something so important. I become a student when I take advice from young children, as well as my older friends. When storms such as health challenges, losses, disappointments, etc., come into our lives, instead of waiting for the storms to pass, why not cherish each day and dance in the rain?
“Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional.” – Anonymous
As a Baby Boomer, and as I grow older with my friends, I realize that old age is truly a gift to us. I love to reach out to my older friends through activities or just sitting and chatting. Many of my senior friends have been caregivers of spouses, lost their spouses and maybe their children. They may have endured health challenges, as well as historical world events such as the Great Depression and World Wars. My elderly friends have walked and experienced the road of life. I would like to share with readers some of the advice these men and women have shared with me. I call this gift “The Three E’s of daily living as we grow older.” I cherish the time I spend with the greater generation.
1. Stay Encouraged: Old age is a time when we can enjoy being the “person” we have always desired to be. The things of the world that used to be important to us when we were younger, such as material gains and jobs, just don’t mean that much to us anymore. As we have aged, we have learned to pace ourselves so we don’t overexert ourselves. We are kinder to ourselves. In observing and interacting with seniors in the community at senior socials, they know how to reminisce and have fun. Listening to songs from the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, you will see the older generation come alive with singing, whistling, finger-snapping and dancing. The greater generation’s enthusiasm for life is contagious to all. They take time to laugh because they know great freedom comes with aging.
2. Endurance: When talking to my aging friends, the immediate response is “Don’t get tired of doing what is good.” I love to see seniors in action by continuing to reach out to younger children and families, participating in community projects, volunteering, etc. I know when I have volunteered in facilities with skilled care, even though there may be health challenges, seniors have shared with me that they have actively prayed for other people with needs. One rule seniors “stick” to is don’t get discouraged and give up. Endurance comes from keeping our thoughts on good memories and hopeful promises.
3. Embrace Growing Older: In working with the elderly population, I have several friends who have low vision, deafness or trouble walking. They have accepted their infirmities with calmness, peace and resignation, believing that this is part of growing old. They are a joy to be around because they are so positive even though they might be in pain. Part of embracing old age is accepting help when needed. Another reason to embrace getting older is that an older person is wiser and more confident. Because of life’s experiences, older people can make well-informed decisions and they know what is important and what is not. Embrace getting older by having less stress in your life. Their advice is to take time to smell the roses, look at the blue sky, enjoy the pitter-patter of rain falling and enjoy nature, life and other people.
When asking my older friends how they get through the tough times of life, the frank answer is that we all handle tough times differently according to the way God made us. Being able to talk to family and friends who may have gone through similar tough times can shed light and perspective on what you might need. We hear the old saying, “this, too, shall pass” and have hope.
Even though this article is geared toward older people, this is a lesson that can be shared with young children in a way they will understand. As summertime rolls on, one thing that we see quite often after a summer storm is a rainbow full of promise and hope.