I was blessed last evening to hear Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, speak at the College of Charleston. Walking away and throughout the night and today I reflected upon his comments which steadily hailed the value of the elder members of society. He spoke of the ways their knowledge, wisdom, and experience come together to develop perspective. This can not be acquired until you reach the status of elder. You can’t fake the wisdom that comes with age.
As I reflected on the importance the tribal elders play in the villages of which he spoke, I really was lead to think of my own family village; specifically of my mother and her influence on my oldest son, Matthew.
My son was such a “fast forty” as Mom called him. But she never sped up. She kept her pace – slow and steady. I’m sure there were times when this exasperated him, but most often, he slowed down because Grandma would take time with him. She listened, explained, watched, helped, and just like a wash cycle, she’d “lather, rinse, repeat.”
Mom enjoyed simple things. She introduced my son to a world where music was made using a pot and a spoon, where the garden was not neatly trimmed, but nature was celebrated, and where reading was done before bedtime with Beatrix Potter’s characters.
In a world of video games, hand helds, cartoons 24-7, the Internet and more, Grandma remained a natural draw. Never was going to Grandma’s a dull time. In fact, on many occasions we would take cousins with us. Everyone just wanted to be with Grandma.
As I see my son growing into a young man, I see Grandma’s fingerprint on his life. I see it in how he holds the door for others. I see it in his manners, “yes ma’am” and “yes sir” have not gone to waste here. I see Grandma’s
fingerprint when Matthew cares for his younger brother or when he carries a suitcase for his aunt.
While the reasons for spending time at the feet of our elders are not always clear to the up and coming “fast forty” generation, it is clear to me that the past is our key to the future. It is also obvious to me, as I continue losing my mother to Alzheimer’s, that I will always have pieces of her in my midst- I just look at Matthew and see Mom’s fingerprint is there.
Whose fingerprint is on your life? Who has influenced your children? Click on the comment button to leave a tribute to a special elder who has influenced your life- or is making a difference to your children.