Boy, this topic is getting so much great feedback! This is Little Drake with his Nanny, last year, 10/2005.
You know, I wouldn’t consider myself an advocate for the elderly; but I believe that there is a wealth of resources in our elderly population. They have so much to give and the young seem indifferent. There is another cliché out there, and that is “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. You know what I mean? Children learn from their parents. When children first start out, they have no fear, or fear very little. That includes looking upon an old person. What is your first impression when you first take in the appearance of an old person’s skin? Is it ugly? Are you afraid? Are you curious? Children, especially young children are very curious. I don’t believe that they find anything “ugly”, per se. They are so curious; they will look, unabashedly, right at you, looking and looking, exploring. Now, if an overly anxious parent always prevents the child from exploring, I believe that child will develop the wrong impression about old people who the parent makes unapproachable to the kid. I think this is how it starts. Of course, later on, the kid soaks up the example of the parents… etc, etc.
I had the opportunity to live with my, then, future mother in law for awhile after she had just lost her husband of 50+ years. I listened to stories upon stories of her/their youth. I listened to simple wisdom from the mouth of a woman born in the depression, lived through war, and made much from literally nothing. Before she married, she actually was able to buy a house, all on her own; and built up from there. They had 5 kids, she did not work, he quit the merchant marines to stay with his family and took a couple of security guard jobs. How did they do it? I know that it cannot be done today…. Well this can be a whole other topic, but I just wanted to give you an idea of the fact that when we look at an old person, we simply cannot know their history and what they have accomplished with their life. What do we think when we see an old person? I know that most people do not see anything of value.
I was blessed the other day to observe my son with his “nanny”. He was smiling ear to ear, touching her skin and exploring her physical-ness. We are so lucky to have her with us so that he can become pleasantly familiar with her, an older person. Old people will not be an oddity for him to fear and avoid.
I have a thing for “touching” and appreciating skin; and I have what you would call an “artist’s eye”. In college, I took a life drawing class and we drew several models of different ages; so I have an objective perspective when looking at naked bodies. I do not see seduction; and yet I can appreciate sexy bodies whether it be male OR female. It seems that my vision can penetrate or pan in really close to the surface of the body; and I want to touch it. Every bump, every hair, every skin anomaly reveals itself to me, forming the whole. Wrinkles tell a story all their own. Each crevice, each age spot tells the story of an individual filled with the richness of life. A tree earns another ring with each year of it’s life. We earn wrinkles. (Ha, this is something that I’ve got to tell my mother in law because she is always commenting about her skin) Ever see a picture of an old Native American Indian? I see wisdom, integrity, calmness that can weather any storm.
As you already know, I am an old mommie; but if I became a mom earlier in life, I would have been terrible. It’s only now, after living half my life, that I feel confident that I have a lot to offer this kid of mine. I have more patience than I EVER did… AND… since I have already had the opportunity to live a selfish life, I can settle down, and be ready to sacrifice and give my life to my little one… though I balk at times, I am really happy with my life. I do need my “me” time, but I am content to find it in a comfortable chair, in the corner, knitting or reading. I am happy to go for a drive by myself for a couple of hours, or hit the craft stores and coffee shops (to knit).
How many times has it happened in your life that an older person, usually a parent, will give you advice and you reject it, needing to be your “own person”? What usually happens is that our way is not the best way and we suffer for it, only to come to the conclusion that the advice we were first given was the better way to go. So we learn sometimes too late.
Yes, today’s youth are missing out on a lot.