After bingeing through Season 3 of House of Cards yesterday, I decided to give Netflix a bit of a break and started digging through the DVD stash. I found a copy of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” that I didn’t know we had; Paul must have grabbed it at some point. I told the kids I’d never seen it, but let’s give it a try. It’s about old people.
The only thing better than the movie itself was the fact that all three of them – my oldest son and two youngest daughters – not only sat through the whole thing, but seemed to genuinely enjoy the story. They recognized two of the actors from Downton Abbey, one from Pirates of the Caribbean, and one from a James Bond flick. Their reviews were all quite positive and thoughtful, with a unanimous thumbs up for the film.
Did I mention the movie is specifically about old people? It’s about old people – getting old. And all the crap that comes with it. It’s about broken hips and dead spouses and boring retirements and lost loves and death and fear of, well, life, and aging, and death. It’s about culture shock and homophobia. And misguided family and lost retirement funds. But it’s funny and hopeful and a grand adventure. It’s about loveable characters and one or two not quite so. It’s about overcoming fear and learning to live a full life. It’s about learning to blog in your final chapter.
And the kids watched.
No bored sighs. No extended bathroom breaks, popcorn runs, or naps. Teenagers. Old people. Remarkable.
I think I shall have a little chat with Nana today at Sunday dinner. Last night was her doing. Watching my kids I realize what a gift I have given them by nurturing my relationship with my Mom. Nana comes to dinner every Sunday. She comes to football games and plays and swim meets. She stays over for days at Christmas. She comes to the cottage. She even squished herself into an RV with us last summer and spent a month in a tin can with me and 5 twenty-teens as we trekked across Canada. She puts her four cents into every conversation, whether it’s welcome or not. And never thinks twice about giving a kid a good talking to when she thinks he or she has it coming. She sticks up for me. And she tells me when she thinks I’m wrong. And after all is said and done, my kids see her as an integral part of our family. We’ll be starting renovations on the house this summer to move her in with us. It will be crowded and probably more than a little challenging. But the idea of having to double up bedrooms, store extra stuff, weather yet another major renovation, and all the crap that comes with it, went over with the kids like chocolate on ice cream. No problem, Mom. What do you need us to do? Because Nana needs this.
I think she’ll like to hear of the impact she has on my kids. And that, annoying as her requests for inconvenient help can get at times, she has taught my children a healthy respect for and understanding of the elderly. (Please don’t tell her I just called her that…) I want her to know that, as much as she has meant to me as my mom when I was a kid, my life is richer now for having her as Nana. Not sure how – or even if – I could ever thank her for that.
I get that many kids never get the chance to get to know their grandparents; my own have lost their dad. I understand the loss. But kids still need grandparents.
You see, it’s super easy to get to know old people. You just have to find them – we usually keep a bunch of abandoned extras locked up in batches. Spend some time listening to what usually turns out to be some of the best stories ever! Volunteer to take some of them grocery shopping or to just sit and talk – better yet, listen. Make a friend. Introduce them to your kids. And then bribe them with a good home-cooked meal. Ta-da! Adopted grandparents! Next thing you know you’re buying gifts, inviting them to graduations, and sneaking salt shakers into the nursing home.
In the end, teaching our kids how to treat the elderly is an investment that will eventually make us the primary beneficiary! And if we have to make a few old people happy along the way, well, so be it.