My Grandma had her birthday yesterday. I was at the library doing school work all day. By the time I got home and settled it was after 9:00 P.M. That was not the time to call Grandma who was certainly asleep by then.
Before entering the library today, I called Gram. We had a long conversation about her birthday, various family members, school, and how we think about each other often, but rarely get to see each other or even just talk on the phone.
I remember my mother talking to her grandma every Saturday night after 4:30 Mass. My mother always said she wished she had started doing that a long time ago. They would chat for 30 minutes or so and catch up on recent happenings before saying "Talk to you next week!" To have that connection is so important, I think. I know it benefited my mother and my great-grandmother.
Yesterday I wrote about aging and included a bit about our youth obsessed society. Not only is there an obsession with looking young, there is also a tendency to ignore the elderly. We hide them away in nursing homes or a "55+ community" (Note: I do NOT consider 55 elderly) and visit them only if we are related to them and even then only sometimes and sometimes not at all.
Then there is the fact that people are living longer, fuller, healthier lives. Magazine covers pronounce "50 is the new 40!" We also have major medical advances happening all the time which prolong life. You can receive retirement benefits at 65, but often people keep working partly because they want to, partly because they have to, partly because they have so many years ahead, at least 20 or 25 and often 30 or more!
My mom is a few months away from 56 and my father is a few months into 66. They both work, walk the dog, go out to dinner, and are involved in civic organizations. They are very much a part of society. My father's grandparents didn't live to be much older than he is now. My father's father passed away last summer. My father's mother, at the age of 86, is suffering with Alzheimer's, but still alive and responsive in her own way. My mother's grandparents lived into their 70's and 80's. My mother's father is 80, and her mother 76 and they show no signs of slowing down. History coupled with medical advances indicates that my parent's will be around a very long time.
So, why are we as a society not paying more attention to or showing more respect for the older generation?
Gram and I will be talking again this time next week. Maybe I'll ask her.