Memorial Day Weekend 2015…
…Is there a better time to have meaningful conversations with the older–and the oldest–people in our lives?
Tum, Tum, tum-tum-tum.Tum, Tum, tum-tum-tum: The beat of drums–comes from outside our NYC apartment. Looking through the side window I catch a glimpse of the colors going by, carried by men in uniform. They are followed by a group of about 50 additional uniformed men, marching proud and tall. I learn these men have just placed the above wreaths of fresh flowers at a 1918 Memorial near an entrance to Central Park.
The commonality of experience, hardship, and sacrifice for country, is shared by countless families over countless years. Some memories lie deep within our elders–aging parents and grandparents and no doubt people who never married. Some memories may still haunt; some may never be spoken of. We know this from movies and books we’ve read, if we haven’t experienced it in our own families.
Never-the-less there’s a positive for those of us with aging friends and family members as well as those for whom we’re caregivers if these elders like to talk about the past. It’s the opportunity to ask them meaningful questions that convey genuine interest in them and in their past. It’s something that becomes more precious and more rare, as their contemporaries–with whom they’ve shared a commonality of experiences–die or move away.
The inability to have conversations with people who share the commonality of place and time is a significant loss. And how many younger people have real interest in, or take the time to listen to memories of the past?
The Veterans from World War II die each day. Viet Nam and Korean War Veterans are, themselves, now senior citizens…aging parents and grandparents. Memorial Day weekend offers another opportunity to raise feelings of self-worth in these elders by honoring them with our genuine interest in their service to our country.
Note: Click photos to enlarge