Having spent many years in the care sector, and in particular dementia care, I often wondered about the lives of all the incredible people I met. They were young once, and in any case both young and old they had life experience and stories to tell that were simply fascinating. Some of them were able to share those amazing stories with me and bring them to life through their words, smiles, laughter and sometimes tears.
Others, living with dementia or some other cognitive challenge, seemed, to me at least, to be living in the moment but were no less interesting. In fact, in many cases, they were even more interesting, especially in the beginning as I learned to understand from them how to communicate better with someone that was experiencing something I didn’t yet understand.
I’ll talk more about dementia another time. For now, I want to share with you a story of a conversation I had with my grandmother when I was very young. I was walking in the park with her and I saw what I thought was a very very old man. If I’m honest I can’t really remember how old he was, he may not have even been that old at all but being around 5 or 6 at the time he looked pretty old to me!
So, I asked my grandmother how this man could possibly be so old and what do other old people do all day. I said that old people sometimes looked sad, and I asked whether there were other old people as fun and interesting as she was? Now, at the time I didn’t understand how that may have made my grandma feel, but I remember her smiling and saying, “Let me tell you something about old people.”
She went on to say that just a few years ago the old man I could see had a wife and he shared a home with her. They would go for walks, spend time together talking and laughing, maybe sharing struggles. Life perhaps wasn’t as busy as it used to be, but they had each other. A few years before that, the old man had just retired and he and his wife were looking forward to doing all the things that they wanted to do now they were no longer working.
Just a few years before that, the old man was at the height of his career, leading a successful team and retirement seemed a long way off. He saw his children through university, starting their careers and making lives of their own. A few more years before that the old man was at the very start of his career, had a young family and life was great and super busy.
Not too long before that the old man just got married and he and his wife were off on their honeymoon to start their new lives together. Not too many years before that, the old man was studying hard for his exams, worried about what grade he would leave university with. And just a few years before that he was starting school for the first time and was about the same age as I was then.
My grandmother told me that when I see an old person to remember they are not just the person I see in front of me now, but in fact, they are made up of all the different people that she had just described to me and were once just like me.
I didn’t see the old man as an old man anymore, and with my grandmother’s words conjured an image of a person that I could suddenly relate to. I wanted to know more.
Remember that image next time you see an older person. Spend some time with them, I bet you’ll find them more interesting than you thought you would, and you will definitely help to bring a smile to their day.
This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.
Wills, Trusts and Probate team
Penn Chambers Solicitors 0207 183 1485