As the Administrator of a senior citizen facility, it has been my privilege to be part of their lives every day. They have such a vast body of education and experience that it is an adventure to hear them recount their lives.
Those that were ground breaking women, a woman that travelled to post-war Japan to open an American business and her counterparts in Japan said, “when is your boss coming,” expecting a man, one that never ended up arriving. Men who served in World War II in the Pacific Theatre or the European Theatre of operations reside at the facility. One elderly gentleman told me, “we all did our jobs and tried to stay alive.”
Women whose husbands or brothers returned home from the war injured physically and or emotionally. One resident told how she was taking care of her brother who had been a prisoner of war in World War II and was in very poor shape when he returned home. She told me that it took six months back home before he could sleep at night and any loud noise would send him running for cover. A few months after her brother returned, her husband arrived and he was even worse off. Though she faced an arduous task, she smiled as she recounted those days and you knew from her expression, that she knew that she had done something very important in restoring her brother and her husband to health.
Many young people are unable to profit from the wisdom of older people either through separation through distance or their assumption that life was so different years ago that their advice might be irrelevant.
For much of the existence of humans, they have relied heavily on the “elders” or “wise people” among their own kind. In fact, we know that the accumulated wisdom of the elderly often spelled the difference between survival and death in man’s earliest times. The elders often helped teach the children, knew how to care for the sick and were the people that everyone turned to in a time of crisis. Psychologist Juan Pascual-Leone has coined the phrase “ultimate limit situations.” These situations are among the most taxing and consequential like aging, failure, oppression, loss, crushing poverty and risking death in war.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net