I have mentioned before that my Grandpa Marvin lives at Buffalo Hill Terrace. I am lucky that I get to see him very frequently—almost every working day, at least, and of course at family events on weekends and holidays. But for most of my life, I’ve had the good fortune to see my grandparents regularly. I got to know all four of grandparents in some capacity and three of them lived well into my adulthood (my father’s father passed away when I was eleven).
And my good fortune extends even farther than that. I got to meet seven of my eight great grandparents, and I remember three of them well. Cream-filled sugar wafer cookies still taste to me like Great-Grandma Lola’s house because she always had them on hand when I visited her as a small child. I have a lot of memories and associations like that, all because I grew up surrounded by older family members.
I also feel fortunate to have a sense of continuity and connection to my history. Having grandparents and great grandparents around me has always meant that I know quite a bit about my family’s past. I certainly wouldn’t have had that without them.
I don’t say all of this just to brag about how lucky I’ve been in my life. Earlier generations have been important in my life because I get to know more about where I came from. That also applies to us as a collective society. Seniors are an important resource because they remember the past and because they’ve experienced social change. When I talk with Immanuel residents, I get to hear about things like what it was like for women left behind at home during World War II or what it was like to live on a remote farm in Montana at a time when some families still relied partly on horses for transportation.
Seniors are able to take their memories of the past and turn them into wisdom for the present. We all benefit from this. When we have seniors in our immediate families, we learn more about who we are as individuals. When we pay attention to the seniors in our broader communities, we learn about where those communities came from. This can help us make critical decisions about where we want to go in the future.
I am lucky because I had and have wonderful grandparents and great grandparents with whom I got to spend time. Retirement communities like Immanuel can be resources where many families and individuals can come together to learn more about the world and to preserve and record the wisdom of the past.