Friday, August 21, 2009


Just riffing on yesterday's posts and comments.

One of the parts of my life that I didn't mention is that I volunteer with a seniors' organization. One day, I learned that a person I thought I knew had been a weatherman before retiring. And I figured that was a pretty interesting occupation. I wondered why we didn't know this. Of course, it's because we'd never asked. Yet we know that everyone has their story. We will frequently ask a contemporary what they 'do'. Maybe we should be asking our elders what they 'did'.

I think partly this goes to our dismissal of the elderly mostly because we're so busy with our own lives. And partly, their under-valuation of their own lives and accomplishments. No, it's not easy to casually mention what great stuff we've done forty years ago. But wouldn't it be nice if it we had a way of finding out? You don't have to have been a' mover and a shaker' to have made an impact on society.

Since I'm getting to that 'elder' place - crone, you say? - I realize that I don't particularly want to regale others with my youthful deeds, either. Well, some just don't bear telling. And maybe it gets too hard to edit stuff out, so we keep mum. And, I'm not sure I want to share all my old skills and talents because maybe I'll have to get them out of that mothball-smelling cupboard. Then, it would be too hard to live up to all the expectations. It's easier to tell no one.

And, who wants to know what you did so many years ago anyway? Is it relevant? With each passing year it becomes less important to the world's spin. Having said that, one of my treasures is my Mom's diary which she kept as a teenager. I'm sure she thought it was pretty dull stuff but I find it a fascinating glimpse of her life then. It was a gold-mine when we were looking to add to family history information. Unfortunately, the later entries were made as she was learning shorthand and I can't read them. Some day, I'll take the old Pitman book and decipher it all. I'm sure they're not that spicy, though. She was my Mom!

This is one of my favorite photos...I just love the outfit.


Andrea said...

Actually, I DO quite often ask my elderly patients about what they did earlier in their lives... it can be quite interesting at times. And yes, Gran's diary is quite entertaining! Guess I should return that eventually.

Mimi said...

Very interesting post again, S.
I, too, usually feel "who wants to know what I did years ago?- it's history now". And the thoughts of getting my old skills out of the mothball-smelling cupboard- OH NO!!
Love the pic of your Mom- the handbag is so cool. You might be surprised at how spicy her diary is- anyone who can carry off a handgab like that must have an interesting story, now whether it's in that diary??

Rudee said...

I often start those important conversations with an observation of all of the amazing things these people have seen throughout their lives. Ordinarily, the flood gates open.

One of my patients sent me a video of himself from a history documentary about Flyboys from WWII. The conversation had begun when he asked if I knew what a Flyboy was. I'd just read the book by the same name, so of course I knew. I soon became this man's favorite nurse. He was a kind soul.


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