Musings on Oldies
The other day I was pulling out some brassica's who had done their dash, making way for a new generation. This little patch of curly kale has been so very productive - long, soft, luscious leaves that we have picked over 3 months or so. It was such a shame to pull them out, but they had slowed down, and a new planting was booming out of the ground and ready to fill their place.
I recognised a kind of bereavement as they came out, and I somehow felt a twinge of what it must be like for a skillful and productive tradesman or artisan to finally lay down their tools, recognising that their time had come. Or for a mother to say goodbye to her last child, knowing that never again would she wipe a bottom or clean a moosh or calm a fear in just the same way.
To feel like we are no longer needed must be such a lonely thing!
Over the last few years I have watched some local heroes slip to their graves. Coming from a time back when men were men, Joe Patrick, Maurie Coombes, Ross Potts and Jack Goldsmith felled the forest, weilded the broadaxe, followed the plough and drove the cattle like thousands of their generation did, yet there came a time when mortality caught up with even these toughest and productive of men, their powers weakened, and their fires dimmed. How did they feel when they could no longer contribute as they had all of their lives? What did it do for their sense worth and of wellbeing, to their mental health, to their relationships with those closest to them? It must have been tough!
How can we better honour our elders? How can we ensure they know they are loved and appreciated, that we need them? Most want to wear out, not rust out, so how can they continue to contribute in meaningful ways that will prolong their productivity and positive mental health as long as possible? How can we ensure that their vast experience and knowledge and skill is not lost when they sleep? I am sure there are government funded thinktanks mulling these questions, but what about your elders and mine? We can't wait for a government service to do something - what can you and I do for our mum's and dad's, aunts and uncles and old friends?