KoD and I were talking about going to visit his mom in a few weeks, bli ayin ra she will be turning 90 soon. She is so sprightly, still there mentally – still lives in her own house. She lives close by to her older sister who is turning 95 this summer. Also, still with her own marbles highly polished, tfu tfu tfu.
I don’t know about you, but I used to have an aversion to old people. I remember as a child being dragged to the old age home in Cardiff, where we had several aged relatives. The smell there – if I close my eyes I can still smell it – was stale, unwashed bodies, and goodness knows what else. All the old people were sat in wheelchairs staring at the walls probably bored out of their minds. As a little girl, this terrified me. I never said anything though, because, well, I knew it was a mitzvah to visit them and cheer them up. I used to think there was no dignity in being old. As I grow older my mindset is beginning to change though.
In my younger days whenever possible I avoided visiting the elderly. It’s a weird hang up, I know, but it used to make me so uncomfortable. But one day, iy”H, we will all be old, the KoD and I will sit in our rocking chairs out on the porch watching the grandchildren / great-grandchildren playing out in the yard.
In Montreal my boys went often to the seniors’ residence just down the road from the school. They visited with the elderly, they sang for them, they davened with them, and had none of the same hang ups that I did. My eldest visited an elderly gentleman who lived in his Bubby’s seniors’ residence. He talked with him, spent just a few minutes with him every time he went to see his Bubby. When that gentleman passed away, he left some items for my son. His Haggadah, his tallit. My son, who was 12 at the time, was kind of shocked at this – he had been one of the last thoughts in this man’s mind before he died. I told him it was because he took just a few minutes to listen to a lonely old man – it meant the world to him.
The youth today think they know everything, but they should spend some time talking with the older generations – we can all learn something from those older than us. We need to show respect to those who have paved the way for us to have what have and live the way we do.
I am looking forward to being old yet dignified, to having little children come and visit me and the KoD, and ask us questions of what it was like when we were young. I pray to God that we keep our marbles and our health, and that growing old together will be a bracha that we are blessed with.