THE FEARS AND GIFTS OF THE ELDERLY

Looking back over some of my reflections on the topic of the month GRANDPARENTS MATTER I was quite intrigued by  some that go back a few or even many years.  Grandparents in some form has been MARFAM’s focus for July almost since its beginning in 1995.  July may be my birthday month but I tend to focus even more on the feastday of St Joachim and St Ann the grandparents of Jesus. I have 7 grandchildren in a wide age range from 26 to 9 so also have quite a bit of experience although I am not a doting or hands-on granny who cares for them full time or spends a lot of time with them.  It is our own needs and interests, but maybe even more so those of our adult children, as the parents of the grandchildren, that will determine the type of intergenerational relationships that exist. The parents are really the ones in control, we are at their beck and call or their mercy.  We have to be sensitive to that reality and find a happy balance between being too judgemental, interfering or too remote.

Many, but certainly not all grandparents are elderly.  If you are a young parent, and your child is a young parent you can be a grandparent any time from your early thirties.  Some of us have great-grandchildren too at any age.

Pope Francis appears to have a very soft spot for grandparents, in fact for all elderly and often mentions them in writing and when calling for prayers.  It seems to me, however that, although many of us are pretty resilient and capable of getting on with our lives, as in Amoris Laetitia, he tends to see us as a group to be sorry for and in need of extra care and support – which some of us do need, especially those of us in our later years, 70s, 80s and 90s.

So in my retirement village a while ago I decided to do a little survey asking the older persons about their fears. Readers may want to do this themselves and in families ask their elders to share and so gain some extra insight into what is going on with those grannies and grandads.   Anyone at any age of course can think about their own fears and worries too.

This is the survey:   What are your greatest fears or worries?    Mark them in the table, then choose your 3 greatest fears.   If possible share your fears with someone, maybe your children or grandchildren, to allow them to understand you better.   If you share with another older person listen to one another and offer any support.

 Cats, dogs, mice, rats Spiders, cockroaches, bugs Falling Getting sick with cancer, Alzeimers, Parkinsons,
Having an operation Being alone The dark Dying
Dying alone Dying and leaving a partner behind Death or injury of an adult child Death or injury of a grandchild
Death or injury of a family member or friend Getting injured Losing my memory Losing my sight

 

Breaking a bone Losing my hearing Running out of money Having to leave my home
Being bullied Being attacked Abuse Driving a car
Children leaving the country Having an accident Other ………..

When you consider the gifts that you have to offer it is not easy to share those as people will think you are showing off or bragging.  But we do carry many years of wisdom and compassion based on experience and of the pains and joys of family life. We may be digital aliens and not terribly computer literate but we do know how to write and spell too and many are good story-tellers!.

It would be wonderful if others would share what gifts they see in us, especially children in their grandparents, at this stage in life. Maybe reflecting on these BEATITUDES FOR GRANDPARENTS could help and give us all an insight.  Click here to read.  www.marfam.org.za/beatitudes-for-grandparents-4/

TR Family Weekly 3 July 2019

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