Friday, January 18, 2008

Interactions with the Aging

My friend, Lysa TerKeurst at Proverbs 31 Ministries, is holding a little writing contest. She asked for articles to be considered for publishing in her magazine. Since I can't resist a writing challenge, I've been working for 3 days and through several drafts and I've finally got one I'm kinda happy with. So here it is for all of you to enjoy.


From the cheer that erupted from my two girls, you'd think I had just announced that I was taking them to Chuck E. Cheese's for dinner. But no, I had simply told them that we were doing the Meals on Wheels route today.

When my friend asked for volunteers to help cover a Friday Meals on Wheels route, I was a bit skeptical. After all, I have two young children and we have homeschooling and other commitments that might get in the way. I automatically went into "Oh, I couldn't possibly" mode. The sign-up sheet was passed around in Sunday School for a couple weeks and still no one had signed up, which then activated the guilt mode. Honestly, it was something that interested me, so I asked my friend one very important question, "Can I bring my kids?" After being assured that kids were welcome, I signed on for a couple of Fridays.

Since then we have run the route several times and my girls look forward to it as a wonderful treat. They help to carry in the milk or rolls, ring doorbells, and talk to the people that receive the meals. These housebound men and women are always so happy to see the girls at their door and thank them profusely for coming. They show off the dolls their own mother made a century ago and the Chinese statues they've collected. They love to chat about the weather or their grandchildren or tell how old each cat is. We always run inside for just a few minutes and spread a little sunshine before it's time to deliver the next meal.

I know that it appears we are a blessing to the elderly in need, but the fact is that they are just as much of a blessing to us. Children in our society are so incredibly isolated from anyone who is not of their own age. In school, church, sports, and activities, kids spend the bulk of their time with other kids of basically the same age, experience, and background. So many kids never learn how to interact with or even take an interest in anyone who is different, especially the elderly.

We've lost the "village" aspect of our society where the generations mingled and its youngest members were daily shown what it means to grow up and grow old. People often fear growing old because their only knowledge comes from a few visits to their grandparents. How can we follow the Biblical teaching to respect and care for our elders if we have no knowledge of their interests and needs?

With the growing isolation of the family, we must be intentional about creating opportunities for interaction between our children and the elderly. When I was a child, we lived near my entire extended family and often visited the older generations of my family. I spent many a Sunday afternoon visiting the nursing home with my church where we sang and handed out Twinkies as bingo prizes. I want those kinds of interactions for my children so that growing old is not a big mysterious thing to be avoided at all costs. Maybe it will even inspire them to let me come live with them when I grow old and incapacitated myself. I can dream, can't I? Perhaps in another 40 years they'll be beaming with excitement when they make a few Meals on Wheels deliveries of their own to my house.


Angie said...

I agree wholeheartedly. We live in a throw away society, but in James we learn that true religion is ministering to the orphans and widows. Thank you for this important work. Plus, you're teaching the next generation! Blessings,

Missy said...

What a great idea to bring the kids would love this. Something to chew on. Thanks!

Jen said...

What an awesome article. You are so talented. I miss you and our fun outings with the kids. You have inspired me.
Love,Jen- the one in Texas!

Celly B said...

How wonderful that you are creating opportunities for your children to serve. Thank you for sharing with and inspiring us.

Sandy said...

I love that you are teaching your children to honor and serve the elderly. What a blessing you and your children are in not only bringing warm meals but in warming hearts!

Miss Sandy