The importance of remembering respect

Monday, July 23, 2018

I asked once if some observations I had made were appropriate for the column and the answer was, within reason, it is my column. This week, genealogy aside, I’m going to mention a few things that bother me so it’s your choice if you want to follow along.

As I was raising my children I probably missed several life lessons that needed passed along, but if you asked all three, they would tell you that respecting their elders was not one of them. This lesson has a secondary benefit in that I too am rocketing forward into that “elder” phase and hopefully that respect will include me.

It used to be simpler to grow old, especially in a small community like McCook. After all, your children didn’t all end up half a country away from you, you knew all your neighbors and had a small “community” within the community you lived in. I remember well that my mother’s surrounding friends had little signals that they sent each other every day: one raised her kitchen shades, one turned the porch light off; just simple things that indicated they were up and doing fine. They were so tuned into each other’s habits that they protected each other without invading privacy.

You were able to drive or walk to get groceries because there was a little store within a few blocks, no street lights, no multi lane highway to cross. If you didn’t drive, and a lot of that era did not, every week one of the stores made deliveries to your home, sort of a pre-Amazon service (no, Amazon didn’t invent home delivery). Drug stores delivered medications; doctors made house calls; milk came to the front door and the list goes on.

But, back to the original theme, for the most part our senior citizens received the respect that they had earned and were valued. Today it seems that we have forgotten some of those lessons. People honk and gun their motors if someone is slow to react to a signal or driving below the posted speed limit. When they are behind an older person in the grocery line, they are tapping their feet or get on their phone to let someone know that they are going to be late because the check-out is so slow. (No, they are going to be late because they didn’t allow enough time to do what they needed to do.) They are irritated if the checker takes the time to speak with the customer (it may be the only conversation that person has in the whole week) and slam their purchases on the counter as if they are much more important than a friendly word.

I watched a woman the other day come out of a store with her teenage son in tow. They unloaded their shopping cart and then just shoved it towards the handicap parking spaces up from them instead of returning it to a cart holder. (Neither of them appeared handicapped but then I couldn’t see their brains.) At a different store, I watched a very elderly woman carefully unload her groceries into her car and then walk her cart back to the store. Now if I was going to give someone a free pass for not returning a cart, it would have been her, but here is the difference: That woman was raised to respect others and there was no way that she was going to leave a cart in her handicap space and so cane in tow, she walked the cart back so that the next person could park close to the store.

We are big talkers these days about humanity issues: bullying, homeless people, immigrants, etc., but often we don’t see the little things we could do in our own backyard. As the saying goes: “How do you eat an elephant….one bite at a time.” Take that bite, extend that hand, speak that greeting, acknowledge the people who made your world possible. They will not be with us forever and someday, you will be them.

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