I read and shared a story on social media recently that touched my heart.
To paraphrase, a young mother recounted how she had stopped into her local Target store, her two year old and four year old daughters in tow, hoping to be in and out quickly with her purchases. As she wheeled her cart up to the closest available checkout, she saw she was behind an elderly woman paying for her purchases with loose change. She thought to herself "I hope this doesn't take forever," as the woman fumbled with and dropped her change, lost count and fumbled some more.
Curious, her four year old walked up and helped the woman and the cashier to gather up the dropped change. She watched the cashier and listened to his comments to the woman, reassuring her that there was no rush and helping her count the coins. The woman apologized and the cashier replied with "No apologies necessary, Ma'am, you're doing just fine." After paying for her purchase the woman asked if she had enough left to buy a reusable bag, and the cashier said she did, patiently transferring her items into the new bag.
The woman reflected as she waited, her thoughts taken over by the compassionate actions of the cashier. Suddenly she realized she wasn't really in such a rush after all and through the kindness and patience of the cashier, her child had just witnessed a priceless lesson in humanity, humility and respect.
I love this story and what it tells us about the value of compassion, especially towards the elderly. With any luck, we will all be elderly one day and it may take us a bit longer to do the things we now take for granted.
I'm a firm believer in the inherent value of all life, but I'm particularly fond of children and the elderly. From children, we can learn to have a sense of wonder, to ask questions, play for the sake of play and to giggle long and often. Children inspire us to suspend disbelief, to dance for no reason, and to celebrate life with cupcakes.
From the elderly we can learn so much, if we just take a moment to listen. To hear the opinions and experiences of lifetimes spent and squandered, to learn firsthand from another human is a divine thing. From the past come lessons for the future, and to ignore those lessons is folly. Every human life contains a different story, different lessons to consider, and different viewpoints to ponder.
I fully intend to be elderly in the future, and while I also intend to stay healthy and vibrantly alive, one never knows what may happen. I hope to be as independent as I can for as long as I can. Hopefully when those years roll in they find me in a good place, physically and mentally sound as well as able to live without burdening others. I have already taken the time to poll each of my sons individually, getting their assurance that my golden years will be spent as a treasured guest in their homes, while their Dad plays video games in the nursing home he is sure to be welcome in. While I cannot speak for him, I am looking forward to it.