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There is an invisible group of people in your church and community that is waiting to be discovered. They are an amazing resource for verbal history into the earlier parts of the 20th century. They know what it was like to live through the Depression, World War II, the days when there were no cell phones, no TV, no air conditioning. They know what it was like when most families had only one car and one bathroom…and knew how to make it work! They lived in the days before credit cards.
Who are these amazing people waiting to be discovered?
Who are these amazing people? We have different names for them. The flattering names are those who are in their golden years, grandparents or substitute grandparents. (Not many of us truly believe those years are golden.) More neutral names are retired, elderly, senior adults. Some of the less flattering names are old geezers, past their prime, old folks, people who are out to pasture or on the shelf and way worse. stopThere is an invisible group of people in your church and community that is waiting to be discovered. Click To Tweet
People of wisdom develop relationships with them in their churches and communities
But those who are wise (and I wasn’t always one of them), make a point to get to know these people well where they find them…both in church and in their community. They make sure their children know them as friends, not just polite acquaintances to greet.Those who are wise make a point to get to know these people well where they find them. Click To Tweet
For my children, their memories include the Reeds, who took them to a restaurant that no longer exists in Tyler, TX, during their first week there, for a hamburger and milkshake. It had an old-fashioned bar with stools. They always had fond memories of the Reeds during our years in TX. Or the O’Connells, who always greeted them individually each Sunday and made a special effort to notice them in a place that was a difficult transition from our FL years. Or AnnaJo, who taught Dawn to crochet because she made blankets for baby showers that Dawn loved. So she spent time with Dawn to teach her. Of course, there were many others as well!
Helping your children minister to them as part of the relationship
I can also give examples of people that made a point of having their children volunteer to mow lawns for an elderly widowed neighbor or two who couldn’t mow their lawns because it was right and they needed caring for. Yes, they mowed lawns for others for pay, but what a way to teach ministry to others in need! This also translated to our IL church where snow needed to be shoveled from those same yards of some same widows. It was a place where they were very careful to watch out for their widows and elderly.
Of course, it may not be that big and difficult. The way your kids minister to them may be on a much smaller scale…writing notes of appreciation for them as people, drawing pictures for them, doing things for them that show them they are worthwhile and wanted. You have no idea how touching it can be to those of us who are older and are often seen as invisible.
And of course, those who had parents who lived in their home as they became more infirm were also helped. It was just another way to joyfully share their lives with their parents. No, it isn’t always convenient, but the blessing of having an extra generation in the home is also there to tap into as your children learn about what life was like when they were growing up.
Stories from my grandmother
We used to enjoy hearing those stories from my grandmother as we grew up. She and my grandfather often took care of us when we were young and my mom had health issues. We would look through her photo albums and enjoy hearing the stories of her brothers, many of whom died as young adults. There was also the story of her one sister that she was named after, who died of measles at age 5. My grandmother was named Martha after her but had a different middle name. When it came to calling her Martha, her mother would become so sad, she couldn’t do it. So she ended up being called “Mina” as a shortened form of Wilhelmina. Then it became a more English form “Minnie.” She hated her middle name and wasn’t all that fond of her nickname I don’t think. But most people in New York and New Jersey that knew her, seemed to call her that.
It was fun for her when they retired and moved to FL after my grandfather retired, to tell them her name was Martha. She had her name back! From the time she was in her 60’s until her death at 86, she was Martha again. What fun!
My ramblings must end, but here are some questions for you to ask the older person in your life
Well, I got on quite a ramble today. That always seems to happen when I’m on Five Minute Friday. Take some time to enjoy an older person in your life today. Here are some great questions for you or your children to ask them:
- • What was your life like when you were my age?
- • Did you live all your life in the United States? If not, what other countries did you live in?
- • What kinds of things did you do in the evenings when you were growing up?
- • What was the school like where you attended?
- • What major historical events did you live through? i.e. wars, Depressions, assassinations, etc.
- • What were your salaries in certain years?
- • What was the cost of gas, groceries, etc. during certain stages of your life?
- • What was Christmas like?
That might prime the pump for your questions.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.