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Even though it’s been years since my father passed away, I am still frustrated by the fact that I do not have access to his wealth of knowledge and random trivial facts. The man just seemed to know something about everything. I’m even more concerned with the thought of losing my mom and all her collective wisdom. What would I do if my mom died unexpectedly tomorrow? What support systems would I use to help with those tough life questions- the ones only older people and over-sized cartoon owls seem to be able to answer?
The answer came to me in a phone call today. Actually, it didn’t come to me. It came to my mom. We were in the kitchen and Mom’s phone rang. She looked down and then back at me slightly puzzled. One of my best friends was calling her. Mom answered with a questioning tone. Had my friend called the wrong Walker?
I could hear my friend on the other end, “Mrs. Walker! Hey, it’s Annie!”. I love that my 40-year-old friends still use their manners with their elders. As if opening a water valve, Annie emotionally launched right into the reason for her call. Her first-born 10 year-old had been struggling in school, and Annie had just realized he was dyslexic.
I could hear the conversation through the phone (don’t judge me), and it instantly warmed my heart. While Mom and Annie discussed dyslexia, I realized how many personal support systems are instilled through all our elders, not just our parents. Annie still has both her parents, but Annie’s parents were not elementary school teachers like my mom had been for years. Annie made a brilliant move to pick up the phone and call an elder who knew how to instinctively guide her on this dyslexia discovery.
I realized in that moment what I would do if my mom died. I would look to my friends and their parents and the other elders in my community. Not only do these elders usually have the answer, but they also appreciate being needed and valued. Watching Mom’s face light up when she realized she could easily and happily help Annie made me realize how much we can all gain from each other long after our parents are gone.
So, if you’re concerned with losing the wisdom only parents seem to hold, take heart and take steps. Look to your existing support system of trusted elders and reach out. Even if you fear being vulnerable or intrusive, step out of your comfort zone and ask those tough questions, wisdom is everywhere and waiting to be shared.
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