In an earlier entry ( https://fullofyears.org/pity-the-writer/ ), I’ve written how difficult it is to find the proper appellation for someone who’s old. From my younger days until now, though, I’ve also believed that “old-timer” could be a title that was mildly complimentary to the older people I encountered. So I have used the term as a preferred way to address elderly folks who showed me that wisdom or whimsy still sparked their brains.
By definition, old-timers have lived in old times. And because human brains tend to remember the past in mostly positive terms, it makes sense to presume that those were good times–in the years when it was pleasant and enjoyable to be alive. When old-timers were healthy, spiritually aware and productive.
Another piece of connected logic: Old-timers must be especially admirable because they are a hardy lot—having lived during those good times as well as the presumably less-good times today. Still thinking: Old-timers may know how to prosper in whatever situations they find themselves. And finally: They could help us to do the same!
Where could that logic eventually lead? Care in preserving old-timers’ stories. Parsing whether those old times were actually all that good. Listening to old-timers’ recollections: How they patched around difficulties; how they trusted God’s providence, persevered when times were tough, made do with what they had, found joy in small things and learned what was important. How they think about good times and hard times now—practically, spiritually, emotionally.
An idea: Try complimenting—and thereby engaging—an older adult with the respectful and somewhat quirky designation of “old-timer” and see where it leads. That tag might just start some story-sharing about the past—both the good and the difficult times. A good-and-godly chat about the good times still coming.
A conversation between old-timers…!
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