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Saturday, August 16, 2008

New roles for retirees

In these times, people think of growing old as the time to be selfish. I don't remember selfish old people in any books. In ancient civilizations, old people were venerated, listened to. In our world, we see them on the beaches of Florida or the casinos of the west, admitting that they like doing nothing but have fun.

Making it to a point when we longer have to work seems like a financial paradise of sorts. But, since we spent so much time working and complaining about it, we have lost the thread, the real role we should be playing at this stage in life.

Our role has always been that of teachers, wise guides for the next generation. We helped care for the children; we taught them the ways of the world. We assisted the young generations in making decisions and navigating difficult waters. We admitted our mistakes and listed our accomplishments and told the truth about life. That role made us valuable in the circle.

This last week, when my grandchild and her friend were visiting, I was the doting grandmother, spoiling them and letting them off with bad habits. It was wrong for me to let the girls stay up late watching television. Even on vacation, there are house rules for a good reason. It was wrong for me to let them serve themselves cookies whenever they wished. Nutrition education is an ongoing lesson, delivered on all fronts.

It was late in our visit when I told her that what she eats will affect her health for the rest of her life. She probably knows that already, but how many people need to tell her these things before she is convinced? I said something about manners and good habits also late in the visit.

I have become self centered in my old age, forgetting my role in life, not just with my grandchild. There will be many retirees in the next decade, and we have roles to play in reminding everybody what is worth preserving and what is important for living a good life. Who else has the background and the experience?

1 comment:

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