Help Aging Parents: Memorial Day 2016

Once again, we remember.
May 30, 2016

IMG_4132

Honoring WWI Regiment  NY

 

IMG_4078

WW !! Memorial  DC

American cemeteries throughout the world pay tribute today to those who gave their lives to preserve and insure our freedom.

This link offers information about events today in England, France, Italy. Luxembourg, Netherlands, Philippines, and the US.

I’m back in the Southwest–Arizona, where my husband was born. Above all, he wanted to return here. In spite of his partially unresolved medical issues we made the trip a week ago Saturday,

Making the decision to undertake this trip was not easy and entailed much thought and planning.The latter will be part of a later post.

Right now I’m headed out to the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona to meet a longtime best friend, whose husband, a former Brigadiar General, is there. This friend walked me home when I began a new school in first grade.  The cemetery covers a huge area–right in the middle of desert. I’ll try to post a photo later. Until then–

We planned to meet a few blocks away from the cemetery after the official ceremonies ended as we thought it would be less crowded. There was, however, a steady stream of cars coming from the east and west–needing to turn right or left to enter the grounds. Upon entering, large American flags flanked both sides of the main roadway.as far as the eye could see.  Small flags were placed by every in-ground grave–in the sand.

This is desert–no grass. But then the landscape is not the important thing here.. The loved ones who have been laid to rest on grounds less impressive then Arlington or Normandy are loved and their memories are treasured just the same; and their families weep just the same.

IMG_5138

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day Weekend 2015–Offers Meaningful Connections with Elders and Aging Parents

IMG_4122

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

IMG_4130

IMG_4131 IMG_4132

Elders, Aging Parents and Grandparents: Memorial Day 2015 and The World War II Memorial

IMG_4058

 (Click photos 1x to enlarge; 2x to see “WWII” on some caps.)

Our Elders, Aging Parents and Grandparents: Journalist Tom Brokaw highlighted their specialness, coining the expression “The Greatest Generation” for his popular book about them. On May 19, 2015 countless aging parents and grandparents (and I) visited the World War II Memorial to pay tribute and to remember.

IMG_4057

The Memorial is located on the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument with two identical  pavilions at each side: one commemorates war in the Pacific; one  commemorates war in Atlantic.

Veterans in wheel chairs (or not), wearing blue shirts and caps that identify their branch of the Service, are easily recognized and unobtrusively thanked by strangers passing by.
IMG_4068

Many, like the two Veterans below, don’t mind posing for pictures. We sense pride that they made the world a safer place over half a century ago. These two former Navy men served on the USS Gearing–DD710. The camaraderie has endured as ship’s website confirms.IMG_4078

The volunteers wear green shirts. Some Vets–as well as many non-Vets– assist and push the Vet-occupied wheelchairs.

IMG_4065IMG_4074Part of the National Park Service, the World War II Memorial definitely does not glorify war. It does glorify the deep-seated values of our elders and a time in the history of the United States that affected each and every person living in our country.

And we–or at least I–find most old people don’t hesitate to talk about the WWII war years. In fact reminiscing seems to be a popular pastime with the elderly in spite of all the adversities they’ve experienced. (Depression and war to name two.)

IMG_4084

As we try to help parents, grandparents and elders we care about age well, providing opportunities to reminisce is an intangible gift. For a tangible gift they’ll never forget–if they can travel with you–visit the World War II Memorial. Doesn’t the Memorial Day weekend lend itself to thinking about both options?

IMG_4086

*****

Related: For a postcard-type look, visit this site:  Full-screen photos of all areas of the World War II Memorial, taken on a rainy day, as opposed to my smaller (unless you click them)  photos, taken when it was sunny and warm.

Memorial Day 2014–part 2: Veteran, Omaha Beach–We Learn What’s In His Heart

  MEMORIAL DAY–MONDAY MAY 26, 2014

https://i0.wp.com/i1-win.softpedia-static.com/screenshots/Free-USA-Flag-3D-Screensaver_1.jpg

“Can we look into the hearts of old people?”
I asked in yesterday’s post.
And last night, courtesy of NBC news, we saw and we heard.

A conversation with WWII veteran, Ed Gordon, now 90, who landed on Omaha Beach–one of the 150,000 Allied troops who took part in the Normandy Invasion on D Day–and “NBC colleague,” Viet Nam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, Col. Jack Jacobs–gives us an intimate “look.”

I’ve isolated the link below for easy forwarding.

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/55260333

Aging Parents and Memorial Day 2014

  MEMORIAL DAY–MONDAY MAY 26, 2014

https://i0.wp.com/i1-win.softpedia-static.com/screenshots/Free-USA-Flag-3D-Screensaver_1.jpg

Can we look into the hearts of old people?

Things change. Values change–both at a rapid rate. It’s part of today’s world and we deal with it. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the impact on our elders as we continue with our busy lives. A one-minute video, with no spoken words, looks into the heart of a WWII veteran.

In the old days the name, Memorial Day, and date, May 30th, were carved in stone– or so I thought when I was a girl. I didn’t know that before WWII Memorial Day had been called “Decoration Day,” although I remember hearing that name. The 1968 Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed “carved-in-stone” dates to days that would allow for a 3-day holiday weekend and took effect in 1971.

We’re accustomed to the 3-day weekends. We take the opportunity to get away for a short vacation. Some think Memorial Day is the start of summer. We have family picnics. There are fewer parades. In our hearts and minds we respect the holiday, see the flags flying, know “Fleet Week” has arrived in New York. But, unless we have family in the military, I doubt we can tap into what Memorial Day means to those who have served–especially those who served over a half century ago, still possessing the memories (told and untold) and the pride.

While that which old people hold dear is disappearing faster and faster, it remains in their hearts. I want to try to remember that as I interact with the elders in my life. Most of us won’t have that special commonality we see between grandfather and grandson in the aforementioned video. We have not experienced their experience.

That said, whether our older family members and friends are enjoying a family picnic, lying in a bed at home or in a care center, Memorial Day offers another chance to bring them pleasure, a chance to enhance their sense of self-worth by showing an interest in their past or asking about Decoration Day.

And for us, we may gather some wisdom and learn some history (possibly priceless family history), while doing our part to help parents and our elders age well. Another win-win!

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
George Santayana. The Life of Reason, Vol 1.

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

 

 

MEMORIAL DAY 2013: A Reminder of Aging Parents and Their Sacrifices– Past and Present– And My Uncle Max

  MEMORIAL DAY–ALWAYS THE LAST MONDAY IN MAY
5/27/13

https://i0.wp.com/i1-win.softpedia-static.com/screenshots/Free-USA-Flag-3D-Screensaver_1.jpg

The burial statistics at Arlington Cemetery alone seem staggering: an average of 29 veteran’s each weekday and 6,900 a year.
HELP AGING PARENTS honors the dead and salutes the living and their families for their sacrifices.

On Memorial Day I think about my Uncle Max. He was a WWII Veteran. He was with the Signal Corps in the Battle of the Bulge and what I know about his service during the war was a result of fuzzy memories when I was young and family conversations when I was older.

Uncle Max was a mild-mannered, sweet man, would give the “shirt off his back” to anyone. It was hard for me to envision him fighting. I don’t think one fights in the Signal Corps unless necessary, but I do think one has to be very brave. If he was very brave it wasn’t apparent when he finally came back home.

I say “finally came back home” because Uncle Max came home a first time. I was very young and asleep, but I remember someone woke me up and carried me downstairs to see him when he came into the house that night. I remember there was a flurry of activity and a lot of conversation earlier that day preceding his coming home; but I was too young to know why. I only knew something big was happening.

The rest is a blank, except for the fact that he wasn’t home very long. I believe he “re-enlisted” because there was a lot of family talk about that, but I don’t think I knew what that word meant.

Looking back and getting to know him for many years after his second “tour of duty”  (he lived to be 90), and having a lot of years to learn about WWII and the Battle of the Bulge (from reading and TV–not from him), I’m sure he must have been very brave. But neither his actions nor his conversations conveyed this. He never talked about the war.

He was simply my Uncle Max.