By Wendy Melton
Cell phones are everywhere. We use them for everything. If you want to know my take on them, we use them way too much. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. We use them to distraction. We want to know something, we Google it. We research it through Wikipedia or a dozen other websites that claim to have all of the answers we will ever need. We use them to the point that they are coming between us and the world around us. Even our families take a back seat.
Let’s perform an experiment. Think about your family. How many of you still have grandparents and elderly relatives? When was the last time you talked to them? Growing up, we had Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s house. She told stories. We all talked and everyone communicated with one another. I was lucky enough to have her around til I was in my mid-30’s. She taught me her recipes and told all of us stories about life on the farm during the depression. She brought out the best in all of us. She was a living piece of history that I no longer have.
While we are consumed by our cell phones and electronics, many of our elderly sit in nursing homes waiting to be remembered. Waiting for someone, anyone, to ask them questions or just strike up a conversation. Many spend their final years wasting away, taking all of their history, stories, and memories with them. Memories we will never get back.
I have seen the story about the crane operator and the old man who sits outside his nursing home watching the crews work. Day after day, the man comes out in the wheelchair and watches. He follows their schedule, taking the same breaks, and remaining at his post til the work for the day is finished. After a little research, I found out the crane operator’s name is Shawn Beveridge. After watching the old man for a few days, Shawn approached him. He learned the old man’s name was Harold and that he was a retired crane operator. The two struck up a quick friendship, trading construction tips and conversation for coffee and a couple of meals each week.
It’s amazing what you can learn when you put down your day to day routine and reach out to an elderly person. Put down your cell phone. Visit an elderly relative. Hell, visit a nursing home whether you know someone there or not. Sit down and talk to the residents who live there. They each have a story. Some may be more interesting than others but the excitement they feel simply from being noticed will be contagious. Call your grandparents and talk to them. Bring a voice recorder and record your conversation. Ask about your family history. Find out their favorite memories.
Shawn received a special gift from Harold. While he could have ignored the old man, like many people tend to do, he made a connection that has changed his life forever. Not only has Harold taught him about life, he’s shown him that even the elderly are still valuable. They are living pieces of history that can enrich our world, if we would only take the time to open the door and take that first step. Don’t let any more time pass before you reach out to the older people in your family. They unlock the secrets of the past and can brighten your world just as much as you brighten theirs.
If you want to follow Harold and Shawn’s adventures, Shawn created a blog on Facebook. Follow them here https://www.facebook.com/The-great-Harold-116355086423802/ .