Here we are, a full week into Older Americans Month, and I don't feel a day older that I did a week ago. How about you?
Older is a decidedly relative term, anyway. As a charter member of both the Woodstock and Pepsi generations, I don’t define the term quite the same today as I did 40 years ago. At that time, I would have defined my parents as old although they were much younger then than I am today and I don’t consider myself old yet.
I suppose older is better than senior, but not by much. In fact, Older Americans Month was originally Senior Citizens Month when it was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, who sadly never achieved senior status.
Technically, you could consider any American born before you to be an older American. Realistically, though, our perceptions of older vary widely and are largely dependent on our view of ourselves.
For the most part, older people outside our families are virtually invisible to young people except for required social and commercial contacts. Outside our immediate families, we usually associate with people our own age. As we age, though, we usually build a greater recognition and appreciation for those older than us.
Not surprisingly, then, interest in family history often doesn’t materialize until middle age or the loss of someone close to us, whichever comes first. Some people never develop more than a passing interest in their own family’s legacy, while it’s vitally important to others.
One of the jobs of family elders is to preserve that history before it is lost so that it can be available to those family members when they want it. Consider that as you reflect on the older members of your own family during Older Americans Month.
Writing prompt for the day: Ask at least one older member of your family what life lesson they want to share with future generations.
Larry Lehmer is a personal historian who helps people preserve their family histories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.
Flickr photo courtesy of rileyroxx.