This past week, on February 4th, I became 91 years of age. I know I am very fortunate because all three of my children, Linda, Tony, and Mary plus sons-in-law Lawrence and Jeffrey, made an effort to come visit me. This past Sunday, Mary had several family friends over for a birthday supper party which contained the ‘blow out the candles’ ritual.
Luckily, my lung capacity was sufficient to blow out the candles in one puff, but understand that there were not 91 candles on that cake. EO publisher Angelica Rossi sent Edible Arrangements (chocolate dipped strawberries) which were consumed and enjoyed.
Just tonight (Wednesday), daughter Mary and her husband Lawrence came to my Palo Alto home, took me out to a good restaurant and stayed overnight. Son Tony (an independent plumber) also came by after working all day installing the basic plumbing (water supply and drainage lines) for a residential washroom.
This past Saturday, EO managing Editor, Arturo Hilario, came to my home to deal with funding of a Latino journalism internship. That got taken care of.
So, at the moment, I feel very well looked after by my children, EO colleagues and close friends who came by to wish me Happy Birthday. Some 35% of America’s resident population are elderly (defined as individuals over age 65). Family gatherings are very important and essential.
My neighbor Della, age 101, is being looked after 24/7 by her two granddaughters. Her two sons and their wives have a very reliable schedule which facilitates looking after their elderly mother.
All of this care is a natural function of the basic unit of all human societies: THE FAMILY, and today we must include the extended family composed of close friends who look out after each other. Many times, that only takes an occasional phone call to conduct a brief conversation. Many personal issues are resolved more easily when the situation is described to a close friend who may provide additional perceptions.
Young adults properly look out for (and after) their elderly parents. These family relationships are very essential to the transfer of family legendary stories and history whereby social values and family history is sustained and transferred from one generation to the next while caring for the kids and the very elderly. In these instances, some level of love (which is impossible to define) is involved.
As an adolescent, I observed my parents take in single individuals when these needed assistances which sustained their lives (with food, housing, and caregiving as needed plus counseling and referrals). Referral to professionals must always be an option. Just remember that when funds or knowledge is lacking, the County of Santa Clara has a very effective Social Services Agency (sustained by your takes) and also sustains and operates The Health and Hospital System of Santa Clara County which included SCVMC (Santa Clara Valley Medical Center).
It is these professional relationships and human services which bind individual families closely together in a manner that no Medical Staff or Social Services Agency staff can provide nor achieve.
Today, I know of several individuals who have almost no family ties. It is these individuals who need to learn to establish relationships which are essential when impoverishment and disabilities (old age) come along. It is at these times when certain individuals are very vulnerable. Some even consider suicide because they feel so lonely and unconnected to anyone. This is where family and friends are most essential in having effective human relationships.
As the patriarch of my family, I practice and facilitate the sharing of responsibilities which enable individual members of my family to make certain transitions in life smoothly. IF THE NEED FOR ASSISTANCE IS REVEALED AND COMMUNICATED IN A TIMELY MANNER to family and friends, very often substantive (usually money) issues may be resolved.
I recently counseled a good friend whose married daughter husband (a management professional) often spoke to her using disrespectful wordings. Those words and phrases were learned by that individual when, as an adolescent, he/she heard the parents argue. My advice was simple: Do not tell him/her “You cannot speak to me like that using those words! I am your wife’s mother!”
Instead say, “As your wife’s mother, I am repulsed by your words. And as a grandmother of your kids, you and I need to find a way to create and sustain a family relationship simply because I will always be my daughter’s mother and the grandmother to these kids.” The real issue was to help the husband to release the pent-up emotions held in check all day when dealing with very frustrating situations at work.
Once the husband (and manager) began to analyze and place the frustration sources correctly, the level of disrespectful verbal exchanges dropped; the level of good family relationships with direct communications was much higher.
The reality is that one must constantly be alert to the misplacement of frustration and disappointment to those close family members who had nothing to do with being the source of that frustration and disappointment. One must continually be alert and be prepared for these situations which come up regularly.
In fact, one may be proactive. Long ago, I decided not to respond to racist pejorative statements directed to me by WASP individuals (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). I now respond by saying “I want you to know that when I want your opinion, I will ask you for it.” This response very often puts an end to unpleasant situations without raising the level of anger and frustration.
My personal experience is that when I communicate while projecting my own personal dignity and respect for others, that same regard will be reflected back. It does take discipline to achieve that capacity and ability.
Many individuals want to be dominant rather than equals. The American ideal is to relate to each other and to our government officials as respectful equals under the laws of this land.”
To achieve that one must be in control of one’s self, that is all one controls and becomes the master thereof. An essential trait to acquire is that of dealing with issues as soon as possible, especially now that I am 91 years of age. I may not be ‘alive and well for much longer. Only Divine Providence knows that! Meanwhile, I am enjoying my productive life and the feelings of appreciation and satisfaction which are reflected back to me. My life is good. I am not that wealthy, but I know that I am well-off.
As an elderly individual I really appreciated and savored those good feelings which were directed towards me. My family, friends, and colleagues are priceless! Divine Providence has blessed us all. We are taking care of each other, especially senior citizens and the elderly. And I thank GOD for all that.