It’s Veteran’s Day 2013, when we remember men and women who fight and those who gave up their lives in wars — wars fought largely to maintain democracy and take stands against extreme hate and cruelty. Each year, I think about my Uncle Sherman, because while he did not die fighting, he made an ultimate sacrifice — forever losing any quality of life after he suffered extreme shell shock (now called post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD) in World War II. Sherman was a B-24 tail gunner.
These days, as various groups make life complex by telling people what to believe, how to worship best, and who they should and shouldn’t love, I remember Uncle Sherman, precisely because of how a kid from a poor family told his mother that he had made a complex decision with understated simplicity. He told her he wanted to fight Hitler because of what he learned in Sunday School about freedom, evil dictators, persecution, and even a bit about world religions. Not many people were talking about religious persecution back then, but somehow in American Baptist Sunday school in Terre Haute, Indiana they were.
Uncle Sherman told his mother that he understood that we were fighting evil — and that he could lose his life — but that he wanted to join up. His mom, my grandmother, who was a short order cook with a fifth grade education, made a deal with him. She would sign the papers as soon as he graduated from Gerstmeyer Technical High School. He graduated, she signed, and he was still 17 when he went to war.
At work do you ever feel especially old when teams or committees neglect to include veteran employees? Do you occasionally see younger colleagues roll their eyes or flaunt up-to-the-minute technology skills when an older colleague makes a suggestion or comment? Does this situation make you think defensively, sometimes making jokes about your senior moments or aging? We’ve all been there!
I’ve noticed that when a few people in their late fifties get together and talk about their jobs, it is not uncommon for them to mention how workplace environments, while building leadership skills in younger workers, forget emphasize how older employees continue to have much to share.
Sometimes at my church in late October we sing the hymn, For All the Saints. At that service we remember the many dedicated and committed people who have died over the course of the year. For me, this service is always a time to think about long time members, most of them elders and many the age of my parents, who have accomplished much and made the world and community — not just our church — a better place.
This celebration of All Saints’ Day makes me think about getting older, how much life I have left to live (quite a few years, I hope), and whether, when the time comes and my life ends, I will look back and feel like I have lived my life with service to others.
My church is celebrating its centennial year, and right now it’s mid-May, not October. I just enjoyed another opportunity to listen and ponder the well-lived lives of elders (age-wise, not in the church governing sense), some departed, but a good many still alive and active. So many of these people, contributing time and talent, ensured during the first 75 years, that the church would endure for generations, making is possible for the rest of us to celebrate this 100th year. For three hours people shared stories and special memories about the history and lives lived in ways that affect change without rubbing their religion in the face of others. Though it was a long afternoon, hardly anyone left before the event ended.
I am tiring of “the boomers are coming” dire warnings that seem to be everywhere. Boomer bashing is nothing new — it’s been going on since it became clear that the demographic cohort would be a large one.
Yes there are problems with so many people growing old in one generation, but it also means there are lots of people who have time and energy to give back. In my life and in the lives of the boomers I know well, we have time after time given more than we’ve received. I expect this giving to continue.
Whether we were fighting for civil rights, starting careers later than usual because we worked on projects that supported other types of change, or continuing throughout our lives to contribute major amounts of community service, giving back has always been a theme in our lives.
What a delight to read Dorothy Sander’s April 11, 2012 post in the Huffington Post describing a “new way of aging” that involves deepening a vision about the many things that are left to be done even as we grow older. Sander, the founder of Aging Abundantly, expresses ideas that many boomers share.
Many blogs and caregiving articles are encouraging adult children to “be alert for signs” of extreme aging. With titles such as “Ten Things to Observe When You Visit Your Aging Parents Over the Holidays” or “How to Spy and Check Out Whether A Parent Needs Support,” the posts explain that family crisis time may be just around the corner, and you may need to use the holiday get-togethers as an information gathering period. And, yes, one recent piece really did use the word spying.
These articles describe a real phenomenon. Unfortunately, many of us adult children — some of us living far away and others just around the corner from parents — do not tune in until significant problems arise. What puzzles me, however, is why so few articles try help us figure out how to begin these conversations in advance — mastering the communication basics and expecting typical setbacks — long before the problems build up and crises loom.
If you are still thinking about purchasing an iPad, either for yourself or for a senior parent, read the excellent, and very entertaining, iPad battery tribute over at Paul’s iPad blog. iPad batteries last a long time. Even when a person is working on heavy-duty projects, charging on a daily basis is rarely required.
Best Quote from Paul’s Post
How good is the battery? You find yourself doing funny things when you buy an iPad. I noticed this on day two of my iPad journey where I took her on an obligatory trip to Starbucks when I found myself doing something funny … I stopped looking for the seat next to a plug, I looked for the comfy chair.
My dad continues to write away on his iPad, and rarely does he need to think about the battery. Total convenience! And I have the same experience with mine.