My sister, Jubilynn, is one of those people who learned early on how useful the counsel of seniors could be. Our elders are filled with decades of experience. They once were young and had the same experiences as we’ve had. Despite the generational gap between youth and elders, as well as the technology gap, that advice from our grandparents is still applicable in our current climate. Jubi has always gone out of her way to harvest this knowledge from everyone she can. As a result, during her “baby shower” she asked all of my elderly relatives all about their advice for being a parent. We spent about two hours listening to the words of wisdom from our family and reflecting on the successes of our own parents. The conversation was in no way started spontaneously, my sister gathered everyone and specifically asking them to tell about their past. This beginning was good because I was able to decide for myself to really listen and take this guidance to heart.
One of the subtopics underneath the umbrella of advice, consisted of us talking of our favorite thing about each of our parents. My grandparents and great aunts started to talk of their own parents. They talked of sacrifice and fun times with their family, the direction given to them, and idiosyncrasies of their parents. My great aunt, Judy, told of how her parents gave her an accordion for her 10th birthday, even though they could barely afford it. Another great aunt, Jackie, told of her mother’s comical monologues in Norwegian. My own father told us about my grandpa’s attempts at learning new things, like bow hunting and getting an arrow stuck in a tree. I started to connect with my ancestors more, seeing the personality in these distant names and faces. At the base of this connection, I started to realize something rather striking. Parents have always been loving. The way we depict parents of yore when we talk about them and portray them in movies gives youth a negative view of the past. Just because we have a different social climate, doesn’t mean that people’s parents loved them any less. I don’t think anyone really consciously thinks that way, but we may subconsciously feel this way because of the way they are represented in pop culture. This thought lead to one that was even more powerful.
My grandma delivered an incredible recount of her father. He was a quiet man who loved deeply. He used to bring her along to conventions and meetings between other farmers, even when my grandma was very young. Great-grandpa Anderson always treated his children as people. Grandma Shari told my sister to do the same. When she said that, I suddenly was hit with my own revelation. The advice of our elders is timeless. We may live in a totally different era, but people are still the same. We still love and laugh, ache and yearn, cry and yell. Humanity has experienced the same things for ages. The wisdom of generations past isn’t made obsolete by the advent of the smartphone. Our parents and grandparents advice is still viable and usable because although many young people don’t realize it, their forefathers had the same feelings and thoughts as they do.
The realization that we should listen to our elders isn’t particularly enlightening. But a full revelation of the true value and scope of this advice is seldom seen. The wisdom that the aged hold, doesn’t have an expiration date. To simply listen isn't necessarily a full appreciation of the wealth of knowledge that can be gathered. My sister understood the full scope of that knowledge very early on, and now I have learned the same.