This past week a famous blue uniform with #5 on it came out of retirement. Watching George Brett sitting next to “Moose” in the dugout is a picture of the golden value of experience. Whether in sports or career or parenting or relationships, we do not have to “invent the wheel” if we are fortunate enough to know and seek out the #5’s among us.
Because of our cultural value on all things new, some elders feel that they have become irrelevant and withdraw from active involvement in their communities, just when their historic memories are most needed to make some sense of the present.
It is important to invite them into our lives and affairs to fully participate in shaping how we conduct business in church, in politics, in education, and in the quality of life for the whole community.
For the #5’s, feeling needed is such an important part of aging well. I recall picking up my mother from the train when the children were small and having a wheelchair ready as her health had suffered with the grief of losing her husband and living alone, away from family. It just happened during her time with us that everyone except for her fell ill with a violent strain of stomach flu. Mother sprang into action, starting with ordering me to bed, saying she had it “under control.” Being needed changed her into a new person as she took over the running of the house. She chose to return to her home after we were all well again, but there was no thought of a wheelchair as she got back on the train. Being needed and finding a way to use her knowledge and expertise gave her new energy.
Do you know any #5”s just waiting to come out of “retirement”?