|My Great-grandma Bea: Purveyor of Pennies and Butter Mints|
When I was born, thanks to good genes and short generation gaps, all of my grandparents and a good portion of my great-grandparents were still alive. Even though I didn’t grow up in the same state as any of my grandparents, I never lacked for opportunities to make memories with the old people in my life--fishing trips, baking for holiday dinners, sleepovers on pull-out couches, and board games at the dining room table.
|My Great-grandma Marge: A Woman Who Described Everything as "Keen" and Had Chin Whiskers|
One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the living room arm chair of an old lady who went to our church. My mom and I visited the elderly members of our church on a regular basis, spending time with them, listening to their stories. They always gave me little gifts--wrapped hard candies, coins, rose rocks. I remember falling asleep on my mom’s lap while we sat with one of the old ladies, lulled by the creaking noise coming from the Lazy-boy as it rocked.
|My Great-grandpa Joe: Popcorn and Pickle Farmer, Morning Whiskey Drinker|
As I got older, I started to appreciate the stories, the time spent with these people who had lived their lives a million years before me. As an adult, I have grown to understand the treasure I had in being surrounded by men and women who fought in wars, hunted for their dinner, worked on farms, ranches, and in lead mines, grew up in homes with massive numbers of siblings, and saw the inception of things like television and the polio vaccine.
|My Great-grandpa Claude: Fisherman, Coffee Drinker, and Perpetual Tinkerer|
So, in honor of some of my favorite people, here are some more reasons why old people are awesome. (If you want to know the original three reasons, READ THIS.)
Reason #1 They Invented Cool
One of my favorite college professors is a woman by the name of Gladys Lewis. For all I know, Dr. Lewis could be anywhere between 65 and 105 years old. Her life has certainly been full enough for her to be 150. Once a missionary nurse with her husband, a doctor, she raised children while on the mission field and eventually returned to the U. S. to become a college professor. She’s one of the most beautiful, witty, intriguing people I’ve met in my life.
Every year, she sends out a New Year letter, much like what most of us write to put in with our Christmas cards, but hers is...well, it’s so much more than an update on what’s happening in her life. I anticipate the letter every year, and every year I cry. Her writing is eloquent, poignant, filled with literary references, and yet sometimes as personal as anything I’ve ever read. Oh, and she has impeccable grammar skills.
This year, along with the details of the lives of her PPGs (practically perfect grandchildren), she related a story that floored me. The previous semester she had taught a class on Tolkien. I was humored and awed at Dr. Lewis’ ability to continue to have a passion for teaching and learning as she told this story:
In the fall semester, my hardy group of Tolkien nerds kept me in the archives to discover material they did not already know. We ended that study with a day long spree at my house watching all the films of The Lord of the Rings. During our delving into the Tolkien conan, I divided the class members in various “fellowships” which reflected the characters in the fiction with specific tasks for each. For example, the “Dwarves” were charged with the History of the Races, Old North Literature and Legends; “Hobbits” with Middle-earth, Maps, Geography, and Geographical Movement; “Wizards” with Good, Magic, Fantasy, Mythology; “Humans,” with Politics, Sociology, Ethics, Morality;...Since gift-giving is such an emphatic signal of Old Norse and Old English cultures, that component was part of our experience. The Humans gave me plush figures of Frodo and Gandalf, and the Orcs made little styrofoam, painted swords for each of us, according to our races. As “Gandalfina,” I was given a very long, silver-painted “jewel”-handled sword, the sword of Galadriel. The one “fellowship” request was for a picture of a student kneeling before me with my posed intention to drive the sword through a person...I knew I had been accepted when my night class invited me to go with them to The Wolf Trap, a local student bar.
I mean, seriously, this woman found a way to make Tolkien fun and got invited to a dive bar by her students. Definition of cool.
Reason #2: Thoughtfulness
In my last post about why old people are awesome, I mentioned Aunt Lucille. She is Scott’s great-aunt who sends us hand-written letters in all of our birthday cards. As noted in the last post, Aunt Lucille bought be a subscription to a magazine called “Birds & Blooms” for my thirtieth birthday. I want to reiterate the fact that I’ve never met this woman, and the fact that she thought about me enough to send me a birthday gift is fascinating. Really. I have officially received two issues--and I gotta tell you--it’s actually an interesting read. Don’t be surprised next year when you all get decorative homemade pine cone Christmas centerpieces and memberships to the Audubon Society from me for Christmas next year!
Reason #3: Don’t Be Fooled by the Gray Hair--There’s a Very Young Mind Under There!
A few weeks ago we were at church for a Wonderful Wednesday dinner (our church really knows how to do the whole “fellowship” thing). We don’t always attend WW, but it was taco night, and well, I’ll do just about anything for a good taco. So, we were eating our tacos and discussing the Golden Globes which had aired the Sunday night prior. I had written a play-by-play of the event for my blog, and one of my friends was laughing about some of my comments.
An older couple who just started attending our church last year asked if they could sit with us. I had the honor of serving on a committee with this couple and have had several pleasant conversations in passing with them. They moved to Charleston to be closer to their grandchildren. Very sweet people. Their last name happens to be Flowers. Sweet.
My friend, Janie, and I continued our conversation about the GGs, and she said, “You were spot on about Angelina Jolie’s dress. That was awful!” Without skipping a beat, Mr. Flowers chimed in, “Honey, that woman could wear the curtains and still look like a million dollars!”
Right on, Mr. Flowers. Right on.