I have frequently in my life written about the injustice to our elders we do in this country. How we are the only culture that devalues our wisest generation. I had a wonderfully serendipitous occurrence years ago when I had written a letter to the editor on this very subject to the Virginia Pilot in Norfolk. I wrote about how my generation looks at elders as bad drivers and people who smell weird and don’t get us. We fail to realize that the things we find cool, like rock n roll, the internet, jeans, freedom, etc were made possible by the old f.a.r.t.s. we sigh and grumble about while waiting in line at the market.
As fate would have it, this letter ran on Veterans Day and was very well received. Lots of responses poured in from veterans, revolutionaries and even a few teen-agers whose parents made them read it and saw the light (i hope). Anyway, the following day an elderly gentleman stumbled into my office. This was odd because my office at the time was in an unmarked building on the 4th floor with no signage or ease of entry from the ground level. This gentleman wanted to buy a boat.
He wanted to buy a boat to take home to his wife and children; he had just gotten a great job and was determined to by a bout from a Norfolk boat builder. The reality was this gentleman was well over 70 and had boarded a bus from Maryland bound for Norfolk after having walked out of the front door of a home for veterans. He had Alzheimer’s and was lost; though ironically his resolve never let on. The perplexing thing about Alzheimer’s is that the people seem totally resolute and normal, they have no clue they are stricken. It’s sad and odd and disturbing and yet weirdly comforting to me. The few folks that I have come in contact with that have this ailment actually seem fairly at piece most of the time; it’s the loved ones that suffer constantly.
But I am digressing from my point. My co-worker was headed to Portsmouth and drove the gentleman (I think his name was Harry) to the VA hospital there. I recently left Operation Smile as Social Media Strategist, not because I wasn’t happy or didn’t love the work, but I felt the call to help lot’s of causes…use my wacky, creative, strategic mind to help veterans and Alzheimer’s patients and animals and kids in the city that can’t get out of the vicious cycle of poverty and crime.
So I am working with a mobile innovations company, trying to find real solutions to help change the world and I am super excited about some of the things we have on the white board. As I was setting up our Twitter account and following my favorite Twitterers (where’s my list thingy) I came across this incredible thing that the mighty John Haydon’s son is doing to help veterans. His son is doing a “Kick-A-Thon” to help the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. A tear came to my eye, my lack of blogging streak ended and I got my credit card out. WE NEED kids like this to help make the world a better place, John must have done something good there because this is an incredible thing, I am hoping you will click here and donate too. And more-over, if you have a little human in your house, how can you get them to open there eyes to need and do something about it?
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poems that inspired me a s a child to get involved with the elderly-
The Little Boy and the Old Man by Shel Silverstein
Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.