Much like a couple experiencing relationship problems, my computer recently stopped communicating with my printer. Nothing seemed to resolve the issue. As I banged my head on the desk I wished, not for the first time, that I had been born before the modern age.
I would have loved to live next door to Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott, an attentive friend as they talked out the details of their famous 19th-century novels; or to have worked alongside Howard Carter in Egypt a 100 years ago as he discovered the ancient tomb of King Tut. Then again, 1920s Paris has always intrigued me. Imagine attending a weekly gathering there at Gertrude Stein’s home as she argued art and politics with the likes of Hemingway and Picasso. Ah, just to be “a fly on the wall…”
I wondered about the seniors here at Live Oak Adult Day Services: do they ever wish they had lived in a different time in history? They have all witnessed world wars, disasters, and hardship, but also space exploration, jet planes, and life-saving antibiotics. Cassie pondered the question and decided that she would like to live not in the past, but way in the future. “Only if it is peaceful, though,” she said. Penny agreed with her, but she made us all laugh when she added, “Of course you have to know first if it is likely to work out. You wouldn’t get married without dating first to be sure it’s a good idea, would you?” They are both genuinely curious about what the future may hold. Others here longed more for days of yore.
Millie wishes she could live back in her Midwest hometown in its early days before there were cars. She would like to see horses and buggies driving around the sleepy streets. Several seniors long for the 1950’s era to return, seeing that as a safer time, somehow more innocent than nowadays. They talked of playing outdoors for hours and only running home when the streetlights came on. “No one bothered kids as they played kickball in the street or rode their bikes all over town.” Moms were home, everyone watched out for each other, and the future seemed bright. No one mentioned that this was during the Cold War and before the civil rights era, so the world was not as sweet as it seems in retrospect.
What I always find inspiring here is the resilience of the seniors I work with each day. If I whine that the computer is acting up, they tend to calmly ask, “Have you tried reading the manual?” When we had so much rain last year that the streets were flooding and it seemed like building an ark was a good option, they were happy that the reservoirs were filling and lots of wildflowers would appear in the Spring. Nothing seems to faze them. Maybe I should dig out that manual, after all.
Cheryl Huguenor is the program director at Live Oak Adult Day Services in Gilroy. For more information visit liveoakadultdaycare.org.