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A couple of days ago, I had a look through some of my past posts and was stuck by the trend of negativity toward the old, or aging, in general.  If there was a thread of agism emerging, I set my sights on squashing the trend and writing some positive things about my experiences with the elderly.  I have been blessed with some very positive relationships by virtue of some years volunteering and working in residences and old age homes.

There.  I waved the white flag.  I’m not a hater.  Honest.

I never dreamed that only one day later I would go to bed with a pocket full of new stories.

Yesterday I was in the pharmacy and lined up behind a sweet old woman who had just finished paying for her items.  She was having difficulty getting her credit card back into her wallet because her hands were shaking.  She was frequently glancing back at me apologetically and, as fate has it, the harder she tried to move faster, the slower she went.  A couple of items dropped out of her purse and her face wore a grimace of the stress she was feeling.

The cashier was folding her arms and looking frustrated.  She beckoned me toward the counter, and said, “Come on up.”

I said, “I’m not in any hurry at all.”

The lady was scrambling and once again the cashier said to me, “I can ring you through.”  At this point she swept the woman’s purse, together with her purchases, down the counter with her arm, not unlike a pinsetter in a bowling alley.  There was no reason I could see for rushing her.  No long line up.  No busy store.  All I saw was one impatient cashier.

I remained rooted, “I’m not in any hurry.  Let her finish…it’s okay.”

To the older woman I said, “Take your time.”

She finally was able to get herself organized and departed with a smile of relief cast back my way.

Shortly after I left the store, I stopped to allow an old gentleman who was carrying packages, to cross the road in front of me.  He was trying to hurry but was only accomplishing walking that kind of hop-like step involving far more vertical distance than linear travel.   His back was rounded in deep kyphosis which caused him to keep his gaze directly on the ground ahead of him.  I wasn’t sure he was even aware of my presence, when at the last moment after crossing, he turned to give me a deep and courtly nod that would have rivalled anyone in the upper echelon of 18 or 19th century society.  I grinned from ear to ear and he grinned back.

Later that morning I had the pleasure of encountering Doris, who is more than 90 years young, as we waited together in our Doctor’s office.  I offered her my seat in the waiting room and she proved to be worth her weight in gold in the entertainment she provided.

We jointly joked about speaking to the Doctor about providing us with tea and cookies, “…since he’s kept us waiting so long!”

“Do you prefer tea, Dear, or coffee?”  Doris asked me, “Because I’ll speak to him about setting out both, if you think that would be best.”

We enthusiastically agreed that the Doctor really should home-bake the cookies,

“…after all, nothing store-bought will do, certainly not.”

Truth be told, our doctor’s longest wait time would be a dream day for any other doctor’s office I’ve heard of, so it truly was all in good fun.

We continued with some banter over the Bruins and the Leafs and she recounted her thrill at receiving a personal card from Bobby Orr for her 90th birthday.   Although, she said, her daughter had needed to send “her Bobby” both the card and the dollar for the stamp…and he never returned the change from the price of the stamp.   She said she is still considering writing him a letter to ask him for that nickel!

Everyone in the office was in giggles thanks to Doris.

In each of these situations, I made an offering of one small thing;  I slowed down and made space for an older person.  In each situation I was rewarded ten-fold;

By a smile, by an acknowledgement, by a story.

The elderly have many gifts to give.  As we all do.  Let’s slow down and find some time to give them.

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