I am always happy to listen to older people talk about their lives in great detail. They tell such great tales of love, war, history, and human triumph, and tragedy. They have so much to give because they have run the whole gambit of emotions and experiences that we call a life. They transfer to us their mental images of how our towns, and cities, once looked, and how people acted, and reacted, to each other in times now long gone. These collected memories are a treasure trove of snapshots, and snippits, of our history, and our ancestry.
I remember my grandfather telling me of how the Delaware and Raritan Canal, that runs along the Raritan River in New Jersey, used to have many barges running up and down on it carrying freight the way our 18 wheel trucks do nowadays. As a kid he would go down to the canal and watch the mules pull the boats up and down in between the locks. He used to love to watch as the locks were opened and closed to raise or lower the water level to let the barge pass. He would tell of the horse drawn trolleys that ran through the city of New Brunswick ringing their bells to signal their approach. He would share stories of the ice man delivering blocks of ice for their freezers, ( they had no refrigerators back then ), of coal being delivered for their furnace, and milk being delivered to their front door in glass bottles, fresh from the farm. Every front porch had a metal box that the milkman would put the fresh milk in every morning, and he would of course take the empties away. He would tell me of steam locomotives, and Model T's running on mud grooved dirt roads. He actually remembered seeing those bikes with the huge front wheel, and the tiny rear one. Now you can only see them in museums. My grandfather has long since passed, but he lives on in the stories that he told me all those years ago. I have become his legacy, and telling his stories is one of the ways I honor him.
That is why I am horrified when I see older people being ignored, mistreated, or just plain made fun of ! And by mistreated I don't necessarily mean physically injured. Here's an example : The other day at the local Shoprite, an old man was two spots ahead of me in line. The checkout operator asked him for his Shoprite discount card. That confused the older gentleman a little at first, and when she asked again, and he finally understood, he had trouble finding it. The woman ahead of me made several rude comments about the gentleman that angered the hell out of me. I just ignored her, walked by her, and let the operator scan my card instead. The old man apologized for holding up the line, and thanked me. I politely refused his apology, telling him that the world would be a better place if we all simply helped each other. The woman seemed very embarrassed which made me very happy !
When I see our elders, I try to see them as though they were a member of my own family, and try to treat them with the respect that they deserve. The old man in front of me, reminded me of my grandfather, so I treated him accordingly. This is the way that all elders should be treated. Yes, even if they are a little cranky ! We need to treat them with kindness and understanding. We need to talk to them and learn as much as we can from them so we can pass down to future generations their wisdom and knowledge. Remember that some day we will all be that old man / woman in line. Won't we want to be treated with kindness and understanding as well ? Respect and honor our elders, and make our Gods and Goddesses proud of us. Not to do so is to dishonor our very heritage.
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !