Seniors Salute

Editorial Comment - Chris McKerracher is a columnist for the Pipestone Flyer

With it being Seniors Week, I’d like to say a few things to those 65 and older.

Dear Seniors, I respect you very much; having been raised properly. I recognize that your generation carried the torch for humanity and fashioned for those that follow, an incredibly exciting future.

No matter what role you played, whether home-maker or hay-maker, plumber, or plumber’s helper, you were part of the whole that moved society forward in so many ways and experienced so much.

Look at the world you lived in. You can recall a time before AIDS, computers, and double income families being the norm, then the necessity. You’ve witnessed many amazing events; moon landings, the birth of rock and roll, even the Oilers making the playoffs. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). You saw the rise and fall of both, the Berlin Wall and Elvis; as well as seen lineups for fuel during the “oil shortage” in the ‘70’s. Remember? We were supposed to be out of oil by now. Instead, currently, oil prices are falling because of a glut. It makes us leery of modern doomsayers, no matter how many experts agree.

Your generation was lucky, too. The post World War II boom was a good time to be around, although built on the blood and sacrifice of those that lived through the war years.

You are the last generation that let kids be kids. You didn’t instill a fear of strangers in them, only a healthy respect for their elders. You didn’t need TV when you were  young because you didn’t even have a television in the house until you were older. Having privacy in a phone call was never assured what with party lines and nosy siblings staking out the only phone in the house.

I regard the elderly highly. One has to appreciate the world they inhabited growing up was so different than what we have now. Of course some things are better now, than back in the day. We can fight cancers better and replace body parts  like we’re made of Lego. There’s also more tolerance than back in the 50’s; towards gay people, other nationalities; people who look and sound and pray differently than we do. We still have a long way to go but the wheels toward better understanding have been set in motion. Your generation must have created the conditions for this to happen.

I know something about senior-hood and its challenges. My Mom is 93 and has been living with Cupcake and me for the last two and a half years. It’s revealed what being very elderly can be like.

Sadly, dementia has affected her memory and created difficult challenges for her in making sense of the world. With quick witted-ness and a huge collection of stock phrases, she can cover it up most convincingly for those that don’t know her well. It’s truly an impressive feat of strategizing. Despite the fact she can’t remember what happened five minutes before, she still remembers who she is. She remains bright and laughs daily. She is usually cheery, too, despite being beset with the pains and travails of being 93. She could teach much younger complainers a thing or two like she taught me.

For example, since she’s turned 65, she has already had 28 more years of happy life.

Just because one has reached 65, does not mean it’s time to start winding things down. It is, however, time to stop getting wound up about things. It’s time to begin a new chapter of your life and try new activities. It doesn’t have to be expensive or physically exerting. Take up a hobby. Try your hand at art like writing, painting or photography. Photography was once a much more expensive hobby than it is now with the advent of digital cameras. Easier too and no film costs! Whatever you choose, don’t be concerned if it’s not perfect. The important part is the journey, not the destination.

If you don’t like art… say, you’re Paul Simon, perhaps get a pet. Being responsible for another life gives one purpose and improves mental health and longevity. Even fish can be fun, although they don’t like laying on laps like puppies do.

No matter what you choose to do, create art, take up bocce or whatever you decide, do it with enthusiasm and optimism. I believe it makes a difference in having a positive outcome and even if it doesn’t, it’s a whole lot more fun.

Seniors, I salute you!