Two elderly gentlemen buying toys for the children descending by degrees from sensible adulthood into giggling boys. The children putting hands to ears when Alfie Boe sang too loud for them. The closeness between the generations obviously not put on for cameras.
Age doesn’t necessarily equal wisdom but what it does carry with it is time. Maybe a sense of time ticking away, but also a sense of what is precious about time. That’s what I saw them offer the children. The time to sit, listen and pay attention.
Our period is characterized by two things; loneliness and lack of time. What a gift older people can offer not just to four year olds but teens desperate for reassurance or young isolated parents.
A friend of my grandmother’s once told me that the worst thing about getting older was that nobody remembered things the way others of her generation did. Older people need others to listen. I’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve enjoyed escorting older people down long corridors as a hospital volunteer. Matching my pace to theirs I listen to their stories.
Like the gentleman who’d worked not only on the hospital but on the local Crown Courts. He confided he’d been threatened by a judge with contempt of court if he didn’t stop banging while court was in session. When we’d reached his destination I accepted from his 95 year old status the compliment that I at 73 was a beautiful young woman.
It’s hard as you get older to accept the ancient person, and ‘bless them’ judgement that you can even still function at your age. But if we can get past that and look for the role we still can play, what a difference that might make to our futures and that of others.