I remember thinking how wise my grandparents and parents were.  My dad was born in the London blitz and my partner’s dad evacuated to a safer location in war-torn England as a young child.  These experiences are a life time away from our modern society and we struggle to relate to their pain.  But have we learned from these past mistakes? One look at the daily news, tells us we haven’t learned much.  Our elders cannot return to history to fix up their mistakes but we can and should learn from their errors, the ‘good old days’ and improve our present.  I know you can’t put an old head on young shoulders and us young ‘uns like to make our own mistakes.  But if you can take advice from someone who has already made those mistakes, why wouldn’t we save ourselves the hassle?  We learn so much throughout our lifetimes and love to provide insight to anyone who would listen.  When was the last time you asked for some advice and insight from someone much older than you?  Not only do you learn but you do a great service for that person by really listening to them while valuing their life and input.

I think we think our parents will live forever.  I remember growing up hearing that friends of my grandparents had passed away.  I thought, ‘they are old, so that is okay’.  Now I am a grandparent and it doesn’t seem as okay any more. Then it was friends of my parents passing away.  Now it is my friends of my friends and some of them are younger than me!.  A disturbing thought but one that adds weight to our need to celebrate every day that we are breathing.

With COVID-19, I couldn’t travel to see my dad for his 80th birthday.  We had planned and really wanted to make the trip.  Facetime had to fill the void for me but couldn’t provide a cuddle.  I wanted to spend some ‘me’ time with my mum and dad.  I’m still waiting to be able to journey across the New Zealand.  The fact is that I love being with my parents, chatting, having a meal and a glass of wine.  Hearing about their day, year, life.  I know I will always learn something from them.

My parents moved countries when I was seven years old and my sister was four.  We grew up not knowing our grandparents, aunties and uncles and not being able to hear their life stories.  I think my sister and I missed those opportunities.

Older folks have been on our delightful planet longer than you have and know more and different things to you. Seek out and listen to advice then take from it what you want.  Give older people the respect and patience they deserve.  Spend time with them because you want to and not because you obliged or that believe you are doing them a favour.  Suck their brains and find out as much about their past lives as you can. Through giving them the gift of your time, you will receive lessons from a time gone by.  Our parents and elders come from an era we will never experience. Learn what life was like before television, smart phones and the excesses we see today.  Your parents’ generation did the best they could with the resources and information they had available to them at the time.  Then our generation does the best we can for our children.  If I could travel back in time, there are things that I would do differently with the knowledge I have today.  But I cannot change the past and I accept that.  Accept that one day your parents and elders won’t be around for you so enjoy their company today.