My grandfather was a World War II veteran who was lightly injured in the Battle of the Bulge and received a medal for bravery. He got married during the war, so he had no time for formal education when he came back from the military. He worked as a salesman for many years and provided for his family both financially and emotionally. He loves crossword puzzles, burnt toast and early mornings.
My friend Lisa tells me that her father was a math professor for over 30 years and was beloved by all his students. He was a big reader of anything and everything and hated sports with a passion. He has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the past 6 years and is cared for at home by a caregiver who makes sure he is comfortable, well-fed and entertained. Lisa visits him as often as possible but the disease is taking its toll; she dreads the day when he will no longer recognize her.
Jay’s mom was a nurse in an era when most women were homemakers. She worked in a maternity ward in the hospital and still tells stories of some of the miraculous births she witnessed. She is an avid biker, a devoted fan of medical TV dramas and a volunteer at her local library. She tells Jay she has no intention of slowing down until her health forces her to. In fact, she is a partial caregiver to her own mom, who has been bedridden for the past few years.
My colleague Ben is still in the workforce, despite having seen the other side of 60 quite a few years ago. He worked his way up in the company, not quite from the mail room, but close enough, and has been a loyal and efficient employee. He dreams of a retirement which includes world travel and a spiffy sports car, but says he’s not ready to give up working just yet. He is still helping some of his adult children with their tuition and enjoys buying his wife lavish presents.
Sarah is a classic member of the sandwich generation. Her kids are still in their teens and require lots of discipline and ferrying around, but she’s recently moved her dad into the house and serves as his primary caregiver. Her dad is sharp as a tack but he can only get around with a walker and needs help getting dressed and showering. He was an attorney when he was younger and still enjoys arguing and debating.
Senior citizens come in all shapes and sizes – some are active and healthy, while others are in need of care and assistance. But what they all have in common is how much they have learned and accomplished throughout their lives. Their experience and wisdom far surpasses anything the younger generation can aspire to – for now. Even when seniors are physically or mentally helpless, they deserve our respect and admiration. This Senior Citizens Day, let’s show our loved ones how much they mean to us.