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Monday, February 15, 2010

Why I love Senior Citizens

In a previous post I wrote why I love children. But it is not only children that I love. I love Senior Citizens. It is a class of citizens that our society in our American culture ignores. Our culture puts a stigma on age. Once you are a citizen that reaches a point where you have to depend on others, then you are put away somewhere where with little or no interaction with the younger generations, especially our teens (which is a a topic I shall explore later). Other cultures don't do this. They esteem their Senior Citizens. But let me get to my point. 

Why do I love Senior Citizens? For one, they have lost all pretentiousness. They don't pretend to be anyone except themselves. They have lived long enough to know that being someone else other than themselves is superfluous. They don't care what others might think about them. They don't care about impressing others. Recently, we have been attending a church made up of significant number of Senior Citizens. In fact, they are a big reason why we decided to go back to this church after visiting a few of them. One of the Sundays we visited the church, we went to Sunday school. What we didn't know is that it was the "older Sunday School Class." I remember one of them cracking a joke about this saying that we were in with the "old" group instead of the young group that met an hour before. But they did not discourage us. They took us in. They laughed. They joked. They were themselves. After class, we met Bob. He spoke Spanish. He is a widower who had been a missionary in Argentina. He was not pretentious. He just shared part of his life story. Senior Citizens also have much to give even at their age. They give us perspective when we think life is difficult for us. A few weeks ago during the service we had a short prayer time. A 72 old lady took my wife's hand and mine and prayed with us. But before doing that, she told us her age. Told us she had been attending church for many years. She had been a Christian for over a long time. She told us about the time she lost her 28 year old son who was attending Seminary. How she coped with her husband's death when she was in her 50's and had to go back to work and managed to move up the corporate ladder. She told us how she shared her faith with others in a very straight forward matter. She prayed for us. She prayed for her neighbors who wouldn't get up to go to church. I left church with a different perspective on life. 

Senior Citizens have a life story to share where we can draw wisdom for our own lives. Today I heard from a 92 year old man who at the age of 17 left Pennsylvania in a Harley Davidson heading to the West Coast. His bike broke down in Utah. He hitchhiked to Washington and found work on a farm. His trek led him to California where he finally settled. He told me how he came to faith at the age of 20. He told me about growing up in the Great Depression which he said I didn't know anything about. I asked if our current tough times surprised him. He said that nothing surprised him anymore. As he spoke, I asked questions and listened. I know that in his story there is wisdom. Age and experience has given him much wisdom. Senior Citizens also show us what loving others mean. They show it when they shake my hand as I enter the church. They show me love by introducing themselves to me, like the two of them today. They show me love when they laugh and say hi to me when I go visit my mom. They make good comments about our family visiting my mom. They say it is a good thing. They don't see this often. People have forgotten them. They are alone. But they have so much to offer: the perspective in life that we need to move on, the wisdom of old age and the unpretentious life worth living. 

My family and I have conversations about them. We wonder why our generation ignores them when they have much to give. We intend to make them part of our lives. We intend to be closer to them. I love Senior Citizens, especially my 81 year old mom who has shared so many stories of her past. I have passed them to my son. One day I will take her place and hopefully my son or my Grandkids will be there to listen to me. One day YOU will be a Senior Citizen. You will want someone to listen to you. I pray someone is there for you as well.
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