Spend an Extra Minute

by | May 18, 2009 | Communication, Listening

They crossed in front of me as I was driving out of the store parking lot.

My first reaction was anger at being delayed for a whole ten seconds. I was quickly jarred back into reality when I realized that this was an elderly couple who briefly delayed my departure.

The man was large in stature but bent over from a lifetime of hard work. He leaned on his wife who walked in front of him. He not only used her for support but it was obvious that he was visually impaired as well.

She was his eyes and his crutch, not just in the emotional sense, but literally as well. The two of them worked as one — each needing the other to function in this fast changing world.

That little example of true strength changed my whole personal, perception of life that day. Suddenly, I wasn’t so mad about having to work a few extra hours on Saturday. I had my strength and I was still relatively young. That’s the term most of us “Baby Boomers” use for growing old gracefully.

That picture of those two elderly people, walking with dignity and strength, stayed with me the entire week. My life wasn’t so bad after all. I had my health and a good job. I had a wonderful supportive wife. I started to think, not only was I lucky to have it all, but so was that wonderful old couple, who despite the trials and tribulations of a long life, still had the love and support of each other to carry them through this world.

You can’t put a dollar value on true love and emotional support.

There are so many people out there just like that couple. We should all have a little extra time and patience when it comes to helping our elder friends. My wife and I sometimes picture ourselves in our old age, walking arm in arm into the sunset.

That image always gives us a warm feeling of comfort. Just remember, none of us would be here if it wasn’t for our elders. Spend that extra minute to listen, learn and help.

Frank P. Cotter fcotter@andromeda.rutgers.edu


Spend an Extra Minute