November 30, 2011

Kindness counts more than we know

Posted in Between Us column, Relationships, Spirituality at 7:40 pm by dinaheng

My father has slowed down markedly this year. After a heart attack last year, and a recent fall, he started walking with a cane, moving at a snail’s pace. But like many senior citizens, he refuses to admit that anything has changed.

He doesn’t like driving on freeways anymore, but when I offer to drive, he insists on taking the wheel himself. He doesn’t hear well, and refuses to consider getting a hearing aid. The only concession he has made to aging is agreeing to regular doctor checkups.

It isn’t easy growing older, and it isn’t easy watching your parents age before your eyes. We’re taught to respect the elderly, but most of us forget that when they, literally, get in our way. You can see it on city sidewalks when older individuals who move slowly often stop and stand to one side, allowing faster moving pedestrians to pass them.

Why do the elderly always have to be the ones to step to the side? Because we may bowl them over if they impede our rush to our next destination.

Whenever I go shopping with Dad at his local WalMart, he always looks for the same cashier in one of the checkout lines. No matter how long her line is, he always gets into it so that he can chat a few minutes with a friendly face.

This trip, when we got to the front of the line, his cashier friend noticed that he was using a cane, but said nothing about it. She watched as Dad took the cash out of his pocket to pay for his purchases, slowly counting the bills. The cashier smiled at my dad, then strolled over to the next register to talk to a colleague there.

I looked behind us and saw a long line of impatient customers, waiting as my dad continued to count his cash. I realized his favorite cashier had walked away so that the crowd would blame her for the slow movement of the line, and not my father. When she returned, Dad paid the bill, and she wished him a good day.

I thanked her with a smile for her kindness, and wished her the same.

The elderly we see everywhere may not be our family members, but they should be treated as such. We all grow older, and one of the most valuable lessons that senior citizens can teach us is to slow down.

Life passes all too quickly every day. So slow down. Savor the moments, and be kind to the people around you. It matters more than you know.


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