Senior Living November 25th 2008

I am of that age where many of my peers are new grandparents (and some not so new) and they have shared with me the many rewards and joys of grandparenthood including the fact you can send the little tykes home at the end of the day and get some rest. And with the holidays coming, this is a special time for family gatherings and a chance to see grandchildren, great grand children and in a few cases great-great grand children.

Grandparents play a unique role in our society. Because parents have to deal with the everyday activities and stresses of raising their children, grandparents with the benefit of distance and perspective, can be a valuable listener, friend and mentor to their grandchildren.

But it can be challenging (“What are kids thinking now a days?”) as grandparents struggle to see the difference between temporary styles and long term substance. What is “in” and the means of self-expression are different (Jimmy Buffet’s grandmother told him tattoos are “just a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling”). Everything seems to be changing so fast most children today probably have never seen a vinyl record let alone know the difference between 78, 45 or 33. But through this windstorm of change, the really important things remain the same: self-discipline, compassion, work, responsibility, friendship, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and faith. And grandparents by sharing their stories and personal history can be the intergenerational bridge that conveys these values and cultural norms to today’s children.

Grandparents can also provide the long view: a deeper appreciation of the past and lessons learned to help the grandchild can move beyond the “latest is the greatest” and past their parent’s preachy “When I was your age I had to – fill the blank”. (A tradition I have picked from my parents, as I have been heard to say “When I was a kid we didn’t have a heated swimming pool, so get in the water!”)

But there are also tremendous benefits for grandparents. Through their grandchildren, they can see a world of possibilities and hope. Grandchildfren can help one understand and appreciate the unimaginable changes that are occurring and to stay engaged in this ever changing world. And as our generations help this next generation understand our past, they can help us embrace their future, knowing that the consequences of our decisions we make today will affect their lives tomorrow.

Look for Denise Patton and myself – with adult children and spouses and other assorted relatives and friends – volunteering at the Fred Meyer after-Thanksgiving Early Bird Sale from 5:30 – 11:00. Last -year because of our volunteer efforts Fred Meyer donated to Meals-on-Wheels a Nintendo Wii which started the Center’s adventure into the Wii sports. There is now bowling on Thursday after the meals-on-wheels lunch, on Monday nights at 6:30 and on Fridays in the basement at 10:00. If you are out shopping come on by and say hi and see if we are still awake or just sleeping on the job.

You may have read recently in The Dalles Chronicle about Miyoshi, The Dalles Sister City. It has been a rewarding global relationship with many positive benefits for both cities. Although our honorable mayor Robb VanCleave never did make a trip to Miyoshi, (probably at the request of our state department) we will see how our new mayor Nikki Leisch will handle her new diplomatic responsibilities. Who knows it could be her first step to even higher office.

But I digress. At the Center’s Next Chapter Lecture series on Tuesday December 2nd, you will have an opportunity to learn more about Miyoshi and The Dalles Sister City program from Bob McFadden who has been the sparkplug behind the effort. He has put his heart and soul and some of his wallet into making the relationship a success. It will be a fascinating presentation with pictures and stories that show how The Sister City program can make a difference in the world.

The Dallesport Jammers will be performing at the Center this Sunday, November 30th from 2:00 – 5:00. Every fifth Sunday, the Jammers have been gracious enough to bring their guitars, amplifiers, accordions, and best singing voices to the Center for an open jam session – you never know who all is going to show up – where everyone gets a chance to sing, pick or strum. There is a full range of musical talent but what everyone has in common is that they all love to perform. So if your family and friends are gone, you have finished your early Christmas shopping (with what money you have) and you are looking for something to do besides watching football on TV, this is the place to be.

From the bulletin board – The local chapter of the American Red Cross with cooperation from Meals-on-Wheels will be serving breakfast on Saturday Dec 6th from 7:30 – 10:30 at the Senior Center. Because Santa will be making a special guest appearance, they are serving his favorites: pancakes, scrambled eggs and ham. The cost is $6.50 and Santa will stay around long enough so you can have your picture taken with him (he does have important work to finish at the North Pole).

As well as a time to gather with family and friends, Thanksgiving is also a time to give thanks for all the blessings we have received. The Center’s mission is to promote healthy aging by sharing and caring and without the volunteers who care enough to share their talents, skills and time the center would not exist. So the Center would like to thank all the volunteers from the teachers to the table movers; from the building monitors to the bingo callers; from the receptions to the quilters, and everyone in between.

And thanks to all the folks who have helped make our community a healthier place to live and grow by giving of themselves for the benefit of others whether through your church, civic organizations, elected office or just on your own visiting your neighbor. Healthy aging is not just about getting old. It’s about learning, loving, living and giving back.

Well that’s it again. Until we meet again, enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving and as it has been said, if the only prayer you say in your whole life was, “Thank you,” it would suffice.

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