Category Archives: respect for older people

Gary the garage door repairman

ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing is doable

You never know what you might find out about a person until you just listen.

This 6-ft tall gentleman wore a long-sleeved shirt and Wrangler jeans. He was more leg than anything and the wrinkles on his face were like grooves. But he still had quite a bit of hair.

Gary came to assess the damage and restore order. He did so expertly, taking the claw of the hammer to force out the pins and replace them, bending the frame to his will. He suggested upgrades but not in a pushy way; he was happy to demonstrate how things would be better in the hot garage.

I invited him to sit after the work was completed. He refused a glass of water because there was a Dr Pepper waiting in the truck. And then he shared his story.

A Marine, Gary was the recipient of not one, but two kidneys. The battle scars he showed me on his arm were fistulas from kidney dialysis. His story was really a story about someone else.

He said something like this:
People who go to dialysis act like they’re going to die. I didn’t. I just acted like it was something I had to do. I got next to people, not so bad that they’d get mad at me. Just so they might cheer up.

One woman, who initially came in using a walker, took note of Gary’s hijinks and commented that he liked to have fun. That idea must have settled well in her mind because sometime later, she came to the center and touched Gary’s shoulder. He noticed right away that she was walking unassisted. She had to come to tell him what she did the night before:

“I went ballroom dancing and it was all because of you.”

I’m very glad that Gary came to fix my garage door.

By LK

Culture and Respect

I know of an American widow who travels regularly to Afghanistan to help people who live there.

Her hair is gray, too.

But when she walks into a room of young people, they all stand up. Their respect is real; she has survived to an age that most of them will not. The World Health Rankings  say that people of Afghanistan can expect to live to about 60. In the US, life expectancy is closer to 80, particularly for women.

I like thinking of gray hair as something to desire rather than something to fear.