The following is a not an uncommon claim for people who spend time with the elderly or those who have symptoms of afflictions like Alzheimer’s or dementia: “I’ve heard that one million times before!” We often witness that comment couched in sarcasm or disdain because somehow that experience that has caused us an inconvenience! Hmmmmmm………… a great suffering, right? Isn’t it interesting that in this society of techno toys and electronic communication we can actually be annoyed by another human talking to us? I guess we’d rather have a conversation with Siri?
Despite the fact that we are totally electronics saturated it is no surprise that the Bible still has a pertinent comment to make on the topic of: I heard this before from a senior. If you have any perseverance at all you will find that scripture has a pertinent comment on just about any life situation that you could come upon. It seems that humans are indeed humans and always have been. I marvel at the number of self-help books that have literally exploded in the last few years. People want answers, experts, surety. All of that, even in written form, is pretty much an illusion and fluid depending on circumstances. As believers, though, we have the master manual written by the original manufacturer himself. Check that book first!
But, back to the idea of the senior moment. Sometimes when we get caught up in the idea of our own world and how things revolve around our own lives we lose perspective. As we come in contact with others we forget to give respect. With a senior, toddler or anyone who has something to say to us we forget that we’re all in this together. Every piece of information that someone has is a tiny bit of school for the rest of us. It might be a lesson, an experience, information or just shared presence. This can be especially true when someone gives us their memories. This is more of a privilege than you might recognize. The prophet himself defined the value of memory.
“Take care and be earnestly the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and your children’s children.” (Deut 4:9-10)
You see, in any culture the memories are the glue that keep it all together. Memories inform, teach, correct, caution, and train. They also multiply joy and divide sorrow. So when a senior shares a memory even for the umpteenth time it has unspeakable value even if the value is simply the exercise of patience or the practice of respect for the listener. No memory shared is a waste or should be thought of as in inconvenience.
If you think of it in a broad sense, the memories of our seniors and emotionally disabled are like customized scripture for our household, our family, our community, our culture. After all what is the Bible, we profess, but a larger collection of the memories of our faith. Paul teaches:
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2Tim 3:16)
So treat those senior moments and seniors with a different perspective and the value they deserve. Senior “stories” may not be the actual word of the Lord, but they hold great value for the listener as well as the teller! What skills have you failed to learn because you have passed up the opportunity that was handed to you by a story telling senior?
©2016, Kathryn M. Cunningham