Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Respecting our elders

I spent a lot of time with my parents this past month.  While my Dad suffered a stroke, I speed up to Greensboro to be by their side.  My experiences watching over and standing by as my parents went through so much got me paying attention to good manners -  specifically respecting our elders.

During the past few weeks, I've observed the best and the worst behavior.  At times, I was at my best and my worst behavior, so I want to be clear.  I know I am no paragon of virtue.  Surely, I need to list all my shortcomings in book form ....or a series of books. I know I've got no room to brag.

But enough about me.....

Through it all, I was struck by how people chose to treat my Mom and Dad. To all those angels who treated my parents with dignity, kindness and great respect, I thank you. I never expected making eye contact, listening without interrupting and talking in a normal cadence and tone of voice to be worth noting, but it is because of those that didn't.  I must say....

  • I wanted to tell the people who assumed my father was senile and talked about he instead to him,  gray hair doesn't equal dementia.  
  • The dismissive and patronizing responses and over use of the word we, as in "We wouldn't want to fall, now would we?", left me wanting to ask the idiot asking if balance was my Dad's issue or one they shared? 
  • And to the lady who took an undeserved and misplaced authoritative tone with my Mom, adding finger pointing for extra emphasis, I wanted to say, "Wait a minute, there.  Put that finger down before I show you the one beside it,"

Honestly, I was just too offended and afraid I'd make things worse by calling them on it.  Could their disrespect warrant me calling them on the carpet with an indignant WHAT is the matter with you?  But I didn't say a thing.

I simply watched and learned.

  • I learned pointing out someone's lack of manners is bad manners and probably won't change them.  
  • I watched and noted our own bad behavior DOES change things in others.  Those of us witnessing bad form get a bad impression of the offender.  
  • I learned how people treat their elders is one way to gauge a person's integrity and character.  Think about it. If they are openly disrespectful to elders, imagine what they'd stoop to when one's back is turned.  
  • I realized respecting our elders is a gift we give those with more life experience than ourselves. We have much to learn from our elders, if we watch and listen. 
  • Respecting others, regardless of what THEY do, in turn, trains us in patience, grace and humility and maintains dignity and peace.   
I learned all that by simply paying close attention to my parents' gracious responses and reactions to the offenders. They simply endured it, dismissed it and moved on.  

Like I said, we have much to learn from our elders. I'm so thankful I was watching and listening to mine.

  






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