Elders: Toss or Treasure?
Essentially, as with all of our Leaning into Light writing, this is about choosing love over fear. Let me share a little story with you.
I’ve never seen a person with more respect for elders than my dad. At 78 years old, still, every year on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, he drives an hour from home to honor his parents at the cemetery where they’re buried. He brings flowers and small American flags, walks to their graves and speaks love’s words in silence. In a way outside our human understanding, his parents hear and feel his love.
While they were alive, it was the same. My childhood was loaded with sentiments of respect for elders.
I watched my dad’s alert eyes when his father spoke.
I watched the way he stood for his mother and melted at the sound of her laughter.
I saw how my mother ironed our napkins to set the table beautifully for Angelina and Juan, my then-living grandparents.
I saw how she wrote them kindhearted cards with her gorgeous cursive penmanship — by hand — by heart.
My parents were not intentionally role modeling elder reverence for me and my siblings, but their respect for their own parents seeped into our bones.
Decades later, I finally accepted that my parents will die someday. So I started writing a memoir for my dad — to capture his life’s most special stories — yes, I want him to know that his life matters enough for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to be left with a book about what he’s lived through, learned and given. And I want him to have an experience of being treasured while he is still alive, rather than regretting that I hadn't done that, after he's dead.
In a society that tosses elders aside, sending them into rooms to watch TV and take their medications, I wanted to be the change I wish to see in the world.
I was tired of being disgusted by our societal immaturity around elders; it was time to step up. My dad deserves this way of being honored. All elders do.
Isolation isn’t a form of love.
Today, my dad’s memoir is almost finished. Our process got interrupted by my massive brain tumor and other life rigors. We’re back at it now. Soon, he will have a book in his hand that’s a symbol of the respect that lives — and will live on, far past his death.
Not only did my parents’ value of respecting elders leave a deep imprint on me — it led me to offer memoir writing as a service of Leaning into Light. Why not blend my love for elders with my lifelong writing practice and 18 years of coaching experience and — one elder at a time —
leave more humans feeling loved before they die?
The actual memoir is only part of the gift, an old-fashioned, on-paper collection of precious memories. Perhaps the greater gift here is giving elders a chance to be heard, feel seen and listened to — like they matter.
Because to Love, the essence of who we are, the most powerful force in the universe: they do.
Is there an elder in your life who you want to leave feeling loved before they die? Your heart knows the answer. Listen for how you can honor them today.
An extended hug that boosts their happy hormones…
Helping them pay a bill on the computer…
Organizing their kitchen cabinets…
Bringing them to a baseball game...
Or getting them a memoir as a Christmas gift.
Toss or treasure?
If you’re touched by this share and would like to see more elders loved through the process of having their memoir written, below is an image you can screenshot and share on social media or text to a friend who has an elder parent in their later years. Thank you for being beside me, co-creating a world where elders are honored.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, was born with a divine pen in her pelvis. She is a lifelong letter writer, a thought leader in Love, and she writes memoirs. Our blog and conversations are devoted to Jessica's greatest passion: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.