this post was taken from my existing blog:
Earlier today I was playing with my daughter in her room. I was told to “be the mommy dog.” My daughter is obsessed with pretending she is a dog. I never realized how weak my wrists really were before I was galloping around Jane’s room like the mommy dog that I was.
I saw one of my old books on my daughter’s shelf. It was Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic. I pulled it out to see if I could break up the exhausting doggie games and sit and read some of the poems with Jane. As I tried to get her attention by reading louder and louder, I decided she was just not into it. I turned the page and came across a poem that I never remembered being in there. The poem was called “The Little Boy and The Old Man.” It reads like this:
The Little Boy And The Old Man
Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.
I read this and immediately wanted to share it with my wife who was downstairs feeding our youngest, Maggie. When I read it, she made the same face I made when I read it. It was the classic, pouty, ‘aww’ face. This poem touched her the same way it touched me.
I think that part of me was so touched with this poem because our family’s business is elder care, but the rest of me was touched because I recognized the weight of the poem.
My generation shows itself more and more as the generation of entitlement. When I look at my late, great-grandfather, my grandfather and then my parents, I see a weakening of work ethic and an increase of a sense of, ‘I deserve ________.’ Please do not get me wrong, I am NOT saying my parents lack work ethic. I am observing generations as a whole. What used to be working hard for what you earn and investing what you have has turned into working as little as possible to ‘get’ as much as I can. And with the increase of entitlement comes the necessity,apparently, for the government to step in and spread the wealth.
My Uncle told me over a holiday dinner once what my great-grandfather would say was the worst thing to happen to this country. Note: I am not attempting to make a political statement, but this next line may be unpopular. My Uncle said that my great-grandfather always said that the worst thing that happened to this country was FDR. Now, before you close the browser window and fire back at me via social media, hear me out. What my great-grandfather meant was that before all the social programs and entitlement programs, people were motivated to work hard and provide any way they knew how. He felt that once the New Deal took place, it took that sense of urgency away and some members of the population stopped working so hard and just held their hand out.
Whether you agree with that or not, it still highlights the difference between that generation and mine. The age at which we all grow up is getting later and later. Men and women living with their parents until they are twenty seven and getting married at thirty and having kids if at all, at thirty two. Kids are growing up with their parents paying their insurance, phone bill, and would be rent and there is no sense of urgency or responsibility. Now the government is forcing us to be responsible (at least by their definition) and get things like health insurance. We scoff at our elders for being old-fashioned and out of touch, but we forget that our elders helped build this country and they have very strong convictions and very valuable insights. They have the benefit of life experience. Nothing can compare to living through things and seeing what has worked and what hasn’t.
But how do we treat our elderly? They are a marginalized group that we are trying to figure out what to do with. We need to cherish what they have to say. I wish I would have spent more time asking my great-grandfather questions about his life. I got to ask him a lot and I am blessed to have had him in my life for as long as I did. He lived to 102. Born in 1907 he passed in 2009. He was a butcher, he helped my grandfather start a business and he outlived two wives. His first means of transport was a horse drawn cart for his fathers market and his last car was a Cadillac that the family bought him for his 100th birthday. This man was an absolute wealth of values and information and he was sharp until his last breath. Pop, I miss you and I am reminded today that we all should value our past because it will help enrich our future.