Sunny Greetings! Welcome to the de-light-filled, meaning-full, Home of Wellness and Spirituality!
“Respect your elders” was a directive I heard while I was growing up. So it was quite natural when I began to sit in Circle with Parisha Taylor to take to calling her my “Elder” and “Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha” (or as it is also written, “Parisha”). This Native American custom of honoring older folks with the title of “Grandmother” and “Grandgrandfather”– whether they are a blood relatives or not– is a wonderful means for preserving the wisdom of “Respect your Elders.”
My parents are now in the late autumn of their years and winter is closing in. I take care of them. This is my way of showing them respect. Three years ago, I left my husband to fend for himself in West Virginia and moved into my parents’ home. If I had not done so, they’d either be in a nursing home or maybe even dead. Both of them have health “issues” which I will not describe in detail. But neither of them would be able to care for the other at home alone nor can either shop, cook, pay bills or tend to the numerous housekeeping chores. I am grateful for that, with walkers, they are both mobile. But their activities are essentially limited to slow walking and sitting to eat, read, rest or watch TV. My father can’t read because he is legally blind and television is difficult.
Some people live through the autumn of their years in fine shape while others, like my parents, have health issues, including memory and other mental challenges. So although they may not be sharp enough to constantly dispense wisdom from their minds and mouths, living with my parents is a learning experience, a way for ME to grow wise, willy nilly.And hopefull, they are growing too.
Some of the attributes of the time of autumn, the West gate on the medicine wheel, are introspection, path of service, balancing of experience, birthing the new, friends, teamwork, harmony, sensitivity, watchful, all-seeing, listening, attention, consensus, merging with spiritual consciousness, death of ego, old age, nurturing, trusting, oneness and being. As I witness the interplay of my parents lives with my own life, I pay attention. These gifts weave through our interactions within our little circle. We need to be a team. I must have sensitivity and be watchful, for often they need help but are too proud or confused to ask. No one is happy being left out of a decision so its good to seek consensus. I need to nurture them and in their own ways, they try to nurture me. They’ve put their lives in my hands in a trusting manner. I must silence my ego sometimes, and be watchful of myself, when my father is angry or critical, for I know to counter in kind will simply further deprive us of harmony. In this way, I resolve old family issues–“karma” if you will–and even as winter closes in–I am birthing the new–a Wiser more whole ME– and growing closer to merging with spiritual consciousness, Oneness…as do they.
So, with a sad understanding of economic imperatives and all manner of extenuating circumstances, I see our culture putting old folks in the nursing homes. Thereby we deprive ourselves of wisdom. We deprive ourselves of valuable company. And I wonder where it will all lead and I wonder what “old age” will be like in the coming “Golden Age.”
This I know. As my wise Elder, Grandmother Parisha, has taught: There is only one law. Respect.