I feel grateful for the meaningful moments that made me wiser
My step-dad was the best storyteller growing up! Some of his stories made me laugh out loud, while others made me question the entire universe! As I pondered these questions my mother was pretty cool, she said, “Trust your instincts.” It was okay to question adults and ask plenty of questions! She never wanted to answer those questions but would rather leave it up to me to practice using my own judgment.
I miss those days, listening to hours and hours of my step-dad and mother sharing their stories. Unknowingly, he was teaching me much more than we both realized. We spent hours cooking, hunting, fishing, and travelling in the car together. He would share stories about growing up in the depression, skipping school and having the truant officer land on his doorstep!
Stories help to transport us to another time and place. They teach us profound lessons about life, encouraging us to reach for the stars. Stories can give us a voice and help us express our joy and happiness or our concerns and disappointments. Many of his stories I had heard dozens and dozens of times! I was always impressed how they never varied or changed. I felt and heard the emotion in his voice 40 years after the experience(s). I was one of the few privileged teenagers who wanted to spend time with her Dad.
Stories can build friendships and connections, and that is also why I enjoy spending time with seniors. As individuals age, they experience age-related memory loss. They tend to repeat things, forgetting they have already told you that story. My children constantly remind me of this fact! Seniors will often reflect on their past.
Proverbs 29:20 says, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendour of old men is their gray hair.” The older generation desires for the next generation to remember what came before them. Spending time with your parents, grandparents, as they reflect on the past, shows them we value the contributions or sacrifices they have made within the family and society. We can show our respect to one another by truly listening to them. I wish I had jotted down more of my Dad’s crazy adventures and stories and written out Mother’s secret recipes!
Listening can cause us to reflect, on our own short lives and the eternity that awaits. I have been retired a few short weeks now, and can’t believe how fast time has flown by. From my observations and experience, working in both home-care settings and nursing homes, I feel seniors are being listened to but not truly heard. Whether due to being frail, memory loss, dementia or other cognitive impairments there is an uneasy distance experienced by some. Well-meaning caregivers, personal support workers, nurses, doctors try to help, and may tend to ‘think’ or ‘know’ what is best for a senior! Listening is such a simple thing, but so difficult at the same time, and is definitely a skill acquired through much time and practice.
So, on your next visit to your grandparents, when they tell you the same story after story, remember it is not to bore you, but to share a part of them with you! Sit the extra twenty minutes while they finish a story you’ve heard 100 times. They will appreciate it more than words could ever express. You may not remember all the stories they shared, but trust me, you will remember the feeling you had as their faces lit up, while the past preoccupied their thoughts.