Have you asked them to tell you a story?
Do you ever think back to when your grandparents were still alive? The fond memories you have of them when growing up as a child with their quiet strength ever guiding you. Their wrinkly old faces, telling stories of joy, contentment, disappointment and perseverance. You see them sitting quietly, observing and sometimes staring into the distance, seemingly vacant. You don’t think much of it then.
I think about them now. And that youthful confidence I had, knowing everything of course, when they were still alive. I was very busy you see. I had my whole life ahead of me.
In the last couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few wonderful old African characters. Their stories are humbling, incredible, and often surprising. My encounters with them have given me a new found respect for the elderly and a sense of intrigue. I want to know their stories.
Suddenly I find myself sifting through my photographs of ‘old people,’ with a feeling of admiration for them. With Christmas just around the corner, again – I have a strong urge to slow things down and to reflect upon the stories and people I have met.
Knowing what they have experienced, endured and survived in their lifetime and seeing them ‘today’, witnessing their resilience firsthand – I can’t help but wonder about my own grandparents and the stories that I did not think to ask about, but stories that I would love to know now.
“The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.’
– Doris Lessing
“In a spiritually sensitive culture, then, it might well be that age is something to be admired or envied.”
– Rowan D. Williams
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 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 old man.
– Shel Silverstein
“I don’t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside of me there will always be the person I am tonight.”
– F. Scott. Fitzgerald