Although I often think I can’t relate to being an Elder, that is who I am. I value the younger folks in my family now, more than ever. I see them struggling to live their lives the best they know how, each given their own personal histories, the mores of their own generations, and, for the most part, their stepping into the roles, worries, and opportunities of young adulthood. Sometimes, I am grateful that those years of angst are over, for me. Sometimes, I admire the young for their courage to face life, life with its uncertainties.
When we are young, I think we are not conscious of the uncertainty. Only the old will die, we think. Not me, not the ones I love.
I value also the ancestors, all those generations whose blood runs through me, and I think of them, often. I want to see them again, although that will never be.
At Thanksgiving, I held the babies this year, and I am grateful for my cousin’s family, for their long and generous table, for the gathering of a family that might have been broken, had not the elders had the courage and the understanding to forgive one another. I am grateful for young parents as they learn to step into that huge role, who handed their little ones to me, to be introduced. I enjoyed each moment, witnessing all of this, and holding on to the time for a few moments.
My first cousin’s house is filled with photos of the grandchildren now. His place is like a shrine to these little ones, the youngest generation, his beautiful babies. His joy is a song, the song of the ancestors and the generations that follow, and that will follow, long after we are gone.
I’m grateful to be old enough to know that I hold some experience in me, and I am grateful, as always, for my good health, today, this moment.
In generations past, I would now have been very old. I expect that those generations held that mix of young/old inside of them, like I do. I expect they looked out into the world with gratitude, also. I hope they did. Gratitude is a gift, unearned, given.