Vail Daily column: Inspired by our elders
December 26, 2016
Mark Twain once said, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." I find this a great credo to live by. If you're young at heart/mind — you're young.
Not long ago, I met my brother in Austin, Texas, for Austin City Limits. While watching Trombone Shorty play on stage, we stood near an older man and what may have been his adult daughter. He was jamming and swinging to the tunes. Within moments, the crowd had parted and now hundreds of people were applauding him. Inspired, he soon took his dancing to a heightened level. He grabbed what I thought may have been his daughter and started to swing her around. He was good. His energy and enthusiasm was felt by all who watched.
When I returned home, I shared the video I took with my kids. My daughter took particular interest as she takes dance lessons. When the short video was over, she asked me if bubbie could dance like that with her sometime. I was a little taken back by this. I found it interesting that she remembered that my mom used to swing and jitterbug. Strange what tid-bits we remember that mark our lives.
No monetary gift can impact our lives more than the gift of knowledge, experience and perspective provided by our elders.
Few life-learning events are more rewarding and memorable than learning directly from someone who has a lifetime of experience and stories. Books and the internet just don't convey these educational moments the same way. When we engage with our elders in celebrating their lives, stories and values, we can pass on parts of our heritage and valued memories to others. How better to honor someone than to keep their memories and stories alive?
The inspiring Scott Carpenter
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I was lucky enough to spend time with one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, Scott Carpenter. While at a dinner with him and his wife, he had shared a story about his friend John Glenn. During this story, Scott mentioned that upon Glenn's launch into orbit he said, "God speed John Glenn." Wow! I had heard or read this before. Now I sat next to the man who said it. It now was relative to my life and incited me to learn more about this historic event.
Scott's story piqued my interest and thus I found myself going online to learn more about America's journey into space. While I read about the Mercury 7 astronauts and the events leading up to the Apollo 11 mission, the gravity and vanguard of space exploration had a greater impact for me. Hearing it from someone who participated in the event made it memorable — personal.
Scott passed away before he could speak at my kid's school. However, upon hearing that he had offered, the children in my kid's classrooms were excited. They researched him, the other astronauts and America's journey to space.
Perhaps, some of these children will be inspired to challenge themselves with exciting journeys like Scott's. I know that would make Scott happy.
Ruth Flowers Jams
One of my friends used to be very involved in the electronic music scene as a DJ. He mentioned to me that while in Belgium, he saw a 70-year-old lady spinning tunes. She had the club "jamming," he explained. After the event, he sat with her and heard her story of how this all came to be. The word he used to describe her was, "inspirational."
Hearing about a 70-year old spinning tunes to a bunch of late-night dancing kids sounded a bit crazy to me. So, I went online and Googled her. Sure enough, I found videos and interviews. I agree, she is "inspirational."
I'm sure that Ruth had never expected that she would be spinning electronic music — let alone socializing and being admired by people a third her age.
You never know what events and life stories will touch someone's life. For those reading today's article, I would like to ask that you to share a story of how an elder touched and maybe changed your life. The Vail Daily has a Letters to the Editor section where you can share your story. If not in the paper, perhaps just conveying a meaningful story to your kids or a friend.
We need to embrace and honor our aging population. If we don't, then when our loved elders pass on, so will their stories and their ability to teach valuable lessons.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, visit the website http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.