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Elders in Auckland

February 27, 2018

Jill Johnson 001

This morning I did a presentation for a  group of elders at the Hospice North Shore here in Auckland. Before I started, I had a short conversation with “David”, who came in NZ over 75 years ago by boat – which took four and a half weeks. Then, I was introduced to others: “Edgar”, a dapper 90ish fellow who had been a Primary Teacher for over 40 years and an animated Chinese lady who spoke little or no English. Can you imagine trying to learn another language at age 85? But she was really working at it!! “Duane”, a large bushy-bearded fellow, relished entertaining  the others with his  saucy and politically incorrect statements; he obviously enjoyed his reputation as the group’s “bad boy”. When the program started, I told several stories, which were well received. But – what happened afterwards was much more important.

“Nan”, a sprightly lady in her late 80’s began talking about sharing stories of her childhood with her grand-children – and their stunned reactions: “Granny, did you REALLY do that?” Faces all over the room came alive and  animated conversations began about how to successfully  share life experiences with your progeny. Some felt it was very important to write it down; others preferred reading “stories” to grandchildren and great-grands – and then adding a personal story that reflected the theme of the other. But the best part was watching the faces of the skeptics: those convinced that their past was unimportant; irrelevant to successive generations. Very slowly, the quizzical looks began to soften. The discussion continued as we adjourned the session and went in for lunch. Several hospice volunteers eagerly joined in, sharing their experiences. It became more and more obvious that this group was sharing a common experience that suddenly seemed much more valuable than many had previously thought. There was a growing realization that- despite technology and our current access to incredible amounts of information- this was something only THEY could provide for their families.  THIS …. is  why I do this work.

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