Growing up I was very close to my grandparents in a way that was different to my attachment with parents. I adored them and I knew they adored me. I also had older neighbours at a few of the houses I lived in and I would wave to them from my window or go and visit them and talk to them often. It never occurred to me that this was unusual in any way but this week’s theme has made me realise that perhaps it was. They were my friends. My father was a priest and so being around older adults in the church environment was perhaps a source of my relatedness with the older generation. When two people at polar ends of the life cycle come together, they have many fascinating dissimilarities to explore but also some shared experiences which bring them together.
There’s something about that distance of decades which reminds us more starkly of our shared humanity. Spending time with young people reminds older adults of their youth, perhaps even helping them to emotionally connect to the experience of their youth and to be more childlike in the moment. And for the younger person, they have an opportunity to understand old age and appreciate the privileges and difficulties of that time of life that they will one day experience themselves.
I remember enjoying looking at old photographs and being mesmerised by the wonder of how people change and travel through life. It never made me feel apprehensive about old age, rather, more accepting of it. When I looked at my grandparents faces, I saw the child or the young adult that they had once been somewhere within their lines and grey hair. The connection between older adults and younger people is a magical and precious thing which unfortunately we have been without for some time. We can find ways to connect safely so that this important connection which is beneficial to so many, can continue to be enjoyed.
This is a picture of me and my family with my wonderful grandfather who sadly died a couple of months ago. My children adored spending time with him and he got so much joy from our visits.