I remember growing up in my tween and teen years in Nigeria, I was there at that point from Port Moody because I had began to turn into quite the rebel at 10 and 11, and I am grateful to my mom for doing that, in sending me there. Anyways whenever my father would have many peer and elderly guests, often from my fathers tribal tongue of Isoko, come over or we would visit their homes to “discuss matters” of great importance (I presumed) amongst the men, my role way very clear. Of course I was never apart of the discussions however as the eldest child and at the time only son, I was to play a role that was to bring honor to his name. My father was often the one to bring the “drinks” and I was the one to pour them for the guests. I would often have to be subtly led to determine who was the oldest and be sure to pour his drink first and work my way down by age, sometimes as much as 12 to 15 men in no particular order around the table and finally get to my dad or some other younger man present. I was often quite afraid of not just screwing up ages but of being clumsy and spilling everywhere, and I didn’t always succeed. After the drinks I was to break a cola nut into enough pieces to accommodate all present then proceed in the same manner handing each piece to each man present. Before anything was consumed my father or some other elder would give some sort of tribute, prayer or honor to those present, then began the discoursing and loud banter and much light hearted laughter with serious conversation almost all at the same time. It would often go on for several hours. I will never forget those times watching and listening.
I learned much about respect for elders in those trying years as a teenager, and if I didn’t my dad would make a quick study of the matter. I learned from my school mates that if your 6ft 5″ school head Headmaster is calling out, don’t just run directly to him unless you were able to ascertain why, and if he had a cane in hand and didn’t look happy you had better, like the rest, scatter and hope like hell he didn’t catch a glimpse of your face and fair skin for when he later would cruise the outside balcony halls that gave him perfect views into each classroom. But if your dad or mom or an older relative or family friend is calling you bee line to the source. It’s just what we were to do. Respect and honor toward elders was the way of life for most kids back then, and they didn’t act in ways that made you as a child wonder if the respect was warranted.
Fast forward now 27 years in our “developed country” and I find things to be quite different and the unfortunate part is that it’s not just children (not referring to all children either) but grown men (not referring to all grown men) seem to have little to no respect for the wisdom that comes from a life lived well yet admittedly flawed at many points but full of diverse experience that we can’t but draw from. A wealth of experience of walking in faith through the toughest of times would do us and me well.
I was recently handed this article by a friend and how he found similarities with what was written yet no one seemed to notice. For those who may be can’t stand it in the scanned form here is a link to the fully digital version.
Here is a scan of the actual newspaper article in the James Bay Beacon in February by a Jack Krayenhoff titled:-
The Invisible Woman. It gave me pause and some sadness to examine how I’ve been with the elderly in my life in light of my vivid memories growing up. How are we/ I honoring, treating, respecting and engaging the wisdom that resides in our senior brothers and sisters in Christ?