Meet Santa. This incredible man is 80 years old and has been “Santa” for thousands of children for over 60 years!!!! When I recently met him at an annual event sponsored by two amazing friends who exemplify the meaning of giving, I just couldn’t take enough pictures. He carried such joy on his face; a look of pure delight in doing his part in creating hope/dreams/love/laughter/peace…delight for those children that day. Santa had found his purpose in the collective so many years ago and the kind lines on his incredible face told their stories.
Years ago I was the Director of Broadway Proper, a Tucson Retirement Community. Spending eight years with well over 200 Seniors with a mean age of 84 was like being pumped full of all of the best of Spirit energy. Unfiltered Truth, Pure Love, Utmost Integrity, Compassion, Forgiveness, Intellectual Accomplishment and best of all…Feeling…I mean R-E-A-L…Feeling, on every level. Each having become at this stage of life, graduates of the “Divinal University of Life” (as my Pops used to call it.) Graduates with the Highest of Honors.
I realized with great intensity the gifts these Seniors had to offer and sadly, in our society where we do not embrace aging; rather we shun it and spend big bucks to make it go away, there were no people lining up to receive these gifts.
Can you imagine the collective quantity of Life Understanding and Knowledge all wrapped up in 200 souls having experienced their individual Journeys, having weathered the storms of Life…Wars, the Great Depression and their own personal life lessons?
I was speaking with an 87 year old Lady (in the truest sense) one evening. I sat with her in her room and glanced up to see a black and white photograph of her standing there with the most incredible flowing wedding gown…so regal, so beautiful. “Babs, when you look at that girl in that photograph, what do you feel? Do you feel the same inside? What has Life taught you since you were that young bride?”
Babs reflected for just a moment. “I feel the same inside; I am still that girl. I think, if I could live my life over, I wouldnʼt be so angry with Anthony over the little things.”
Then there was Nick, a retired truck driver from New York. He had this habit of pinching our cute young Activities Director under the water during water aerobics. After the third or fourth “comeuppance” in my office prompted by complaints from the Senior ladies, I asked: “Nick, why do you continue to pinch Ms. Lohberg when you know it’s going to get you in trouble? ” Nick lowered his head … “I just can’t help myself.” I mean, come ON, you just have to LOVE that!
The many gifts I received during those eight years…the love and devotion this “village” freely showered upon my daughters, then ages five and seven, to this day present themselves in our lives, over and over again. I hear the voices, I see the examples and I try to live up to those invitations. I see the poise and deep understanding that Kim and Amber possess to this day, an understanding that seeped into their beings from the touch of 200 hearts and souls.
It is my invitation to you to accept the gifts of our aging. Ask the questions. Embrace the insights. If there is a conduit through which a Senior can be connected in order to give their energy, please facilitate this connect. It’s free and I promise you won’t find this in a textbook.
“Thank you for your life.” “What can you teach me?”
There it is.
Americaʼs Greatest Untapped Resource.