5 Lessons learned from an elderly neighbor

We all have “older” people in our lives. People we look up to and who if we pay close enough attention have some valuable lessons to share. My grandmother has always been one of those people for me. She is a spry, brutally honest firecracker well into her 80s. The thing is, I will always remember her as the younger woman who helped raise me. Living several states away I don’t get to see her very often so the lessons she continues to teach me to this day are less glaringly obvious than the ones learned from those closest to me.

In my early twenties I worked in a long-term care facility, which was a daily reminder of the fragility of the mind and body. After moving on from that job, I found myself surrounded by much younger people which is usually the case. You find young families congregated together in neighborhoods, workplaces, and social circles. I had begun to lose sight of some of the lessons of those older and wiser than I.

Then we moved into an established neighborhood with a mix of ages, styles, and interests. We found ourselves sharing a fence and swapping stories with a soft spoken, but wise elderly gentleman. To be honest, it has been a blessing to be raising our family with a reminder of what life holds for us living nearby.

If I listen to every short conversation we share I’m sure I could fill a whole book with insights and gems of advice, but I’ve taken away a few precious nuggets I’d like to share with you.

GG and Olivia1. Do everything you want to do while you can still do it. We all make excuses for why we don’t get to that one item on our list, but we won’t be able to do everything forever.

2. Take joy in the physical labor – even the mundane and dirty – because one day you will be watching others doing these things and wishing only that you could be doing them too.

3. In the rush to get things done, don’t forget the precious moments with family, friends, and by yourself. Children don’t stay small and we won’t be on this Earth forever, so grab hold of those simple kisses, hugs, and laughs. Hold them tight and close to your heart.

4. Find something you love to do that you can do for years. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it will keep you active and engaged and sometimes that is the only thing that keeps you going.

5. Don’t close yourself off. Family, friends, and neighbors will come and go. The main thing to remember is that there are new people who will come into your life all the time and you have to be open to accepting and enjoying that. The pain of loss is strong, but the joy of companionship is stronger.

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