Respecting Our Elders – A Tale of Friendship

The past few weeks I’ve been absent with the exception of the interviews I’ve done and there is a good reason although I’m not sure some folks will get it. Among numerous other things I’ve been trying to get my life together. I have a tendency to stray from the path and although that’s not a good thing for a writer I suppose it does always end with me reevaluating my priorities.

As some of you may know I’m a property manager in my day to day life. It’s one of those jobs where the intensity level has more ups and downs than a roller coaster on crack. There is far more to being a property manager than some folks would have you believe. I take pride in my work no matter the job I’m doing, but I believe this is the one job I’ve worried about the most.

 

Respect your elders...

In this day and age of go…go…go…there are those of us who have lost our connection to the rest of humanity. Dealing with people on a day to day basis I’ve come to learn a great deal of patience and respect for every person who passes through my door. One of those is an elderly gentleman I’ll call Will.

 

Will is seventy years old and in poor health. He has only one functioning lung, but he refuses to lay down and die. Will came into my life about 6 months ago and to my horror it seems his only child views him as more a complication or inconvenience than a human being. I understand family drama, Goddess knows I do, but no matter how bad things got between my parents and I, always I tried to do the right thing by them.

The past couple of months, Will and I have began to form a friendship of sorts. It began with me going out in the morning to get his paper for him. It evolved from there. In a way he reminds me of my mother who passed four years ago from complications due to bone cancer. He’s strong-willed, stubborn to a fault, and some days he irritates me to no end, but I also respect him as I was raised to do. He’s lived a full life, raised a child on his own, and yet that child doesn’t seem to appreciate the sacrifices he’s made. Neither does he understand why this child treats him as an after thought most days.

At seventy, despite his illness, he’s incredibly intelligent and we’ve had some in depth conversations about anything from religion, science, politics, and everything in between. He has moments of forgetfulness, but then as one ages it happens. In some quieter moments he’s spoken about his wife (she passed at the age of 37) and his difficulties in raising a child on his own. Will’s only companion is a fat cat who believes he’s the king of the castle. Of course being the woman I am he learned really quick that I didn’t put up with his annoying behavior (he bites quite often and they’re not love bites). Will is amazed that his cat tolerates and often loves on me when I visit him.

I can spend hours talking to Will in a way I rarely do with others. Perhaps it’s because we both live alone and are separated from family. I share my photos from my weekend adventures, work on his computer, repair broken items for him, and make sure he’s taking his meds and eating. He was tickled pink when I brought him fresh baked from scratch cookies still warm from the oven.

As I child I never really understood why my mother insisted I respect my elders. They’re just old people who smell funny–right? Wrong!

They’re people, pure and simple. Maybe we steer clear of them in our youth because they remind us of our own mortality and push us into our discomfort zone. These aged people possess a wealth of knowledge and experience they can share with the right person if only they are given the respect they deserve. Sometimes they force us to stop and take a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror. Of course there’s nothing wrong with some introspection unless of course you don’t like yourself to begin with. Knowing you’re doing the wrong thing despite trying to convince yourself otherwise can bring on the hurt–can’t it?

All I know is I respect Will for who he is and the history he’s observed. I cherish the friendship we’re cultivating through an unexpected twist of fate. I’ve already learned far more from this stranger who wandered into my life than I thought possible.

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2 comments on “Respecting Our Elders – A Tale of Friendship

  1. The elderly, to me, are some of the best company in the world. Their knowledge and experience is so valuable and fascinating.
    Sounds as though you’re as much a blessing in Will’s life as he is in yours. Enjoy him!

    • I agree, Carol. For me the time I spend with Will is some of my most well spent time. He has become a blessing I wasn’t expecting. He can be quite stubborn and even irritating sometimes, but we’ve come to an unspoken agreement; I’ll help him and we won’t linger on it. As many elderly his body does not reflect his mind and it frustrates him that he can no longer do things he could in his youth.

      One day he admitted it was just a matter of pride and I replied by saying to him, “Will, just because you ask for my help doesn’t mean I think any less of you.” The look of gratitude on his face nearly broke my heart. I really don’t think he’s used to someone treating him with that level of respect.

      Trust me I definitely enjoy him. He’s a wonderful addition to my life.

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