14 March 2009

elders

Today I taught a poetry workshop for the Utah State Poetry Society, and, though I was dreading it just a little bit because I'm crazily trying to get ready for our trip to Arizona tomorrow, single-parenting, and trying to find the last thousand words of an essay I'm writing, and also because I swore off teaching for the year, I loved it.

There were about fifty people there, and probably 45 of them were sept- or octogenerians, and here's the deal:  I think that generation is the best generation living today for several reasons.
First of all, they were around during the depression, and I think this instilled proper, sensible values in them.  They are the last generation who didn't live in ginormous houses or have excessive spending habits.  They seem to value people more than things, with their societies and clubs, luncheons and dances.  They are always gracious and thoughtful, interested in the well-being of others, and really fun to be around in general.  My Grandma Beth is of this generation, and she exemplifies all of these traits.  Secondly, they are people who walked places, didn't have tv's, gardened and preserved, and made their food from scratch. 

BUT, this is also the generation who doesn't seem overly nostalgic, and who seems to appreciate things like antibiotics and the benefits of technology (remember Hinckley?), and progress in general.

I know I'm making huge generalizations, but I realized today how fun teaching is with such a great audience.  When I lived in Oklahoma seven years ago, I was the writer-in-residence at Oklahoma City University and one of my duties was to teach a community outreach workshop at a nearby retirement home.  Same deal there.  I taught a memoir writing workshop there and had the time of my life hearing all the stories and just hanging out, and at the end we had a tea and all wore fancy hats.

Today after the workshop, they took me out to Chuck-a-rama for lunch, and one of the members, a hilarious guy named Bob slipped me a poem he had written at the workshop about me.  Then he said, "I haven't been widely published, but probably 1,000 ladies have poems I've written for them, maybe in their lingerie drawer.  What could be better than that?"  And as we were all saying good-bye, he shook my hand with his two hands and said, "Lara, you're full of words, you're full of vitality, you're full of music, you're full of many things, but one thing you're not full of is yourself."  Then he turned and left, and I was charmed by this little poem that he has probably said upon leaving about a thousand other ladies.

If there was a faculty job that involved only teaching seniors, I'd reconsider my whole anti-teaching thing.  

If you really want to have a great day, spend it with the eighty-plus crowd.  It's enriching and inspiring.  

Do it before it's too late.

3 comments:

GrittyPretty said...

love the lingerie drawer thing! what a unique ambition!

Marni C. said...

LOVE this. Hey--what's the essay

Travels with Wiwaxia said...

My exercise regimen has increased since January with water aerobics. This class is for "over 55" but it's clear that most are at least 10 if not 15 years older than I am. It's a great group--liberal, informed, widely traveled and fun.
It can be tough in "tween" ghetto, and I think it important to mix ages in our communities. Love reading about AZ. Need more.