Old is Gold

Ellie Tanko, Opinion Assistant Editor

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Her frail, shaking hands dipped slowly from the railing into the frigid water. I watched as her and a young boy, probably no older than eleven or twelve, began to practice strokes and kicks. It looked as though the older lady was helping the boy learn to swim. After watching her display of generosity I couldn’t help but be filled with respect for elders. Respect should be given to those who are older and wiser than us.

This summer I was given the gift of observing people from all walks of life. I worked at a public pool as a lifeguard where I spent my summer days sitting up in a chair listening to intriguing conversations and making sure little kids didn’t drown. Watching the older lady’s devotion to teaching the boy only increased my appreciation for older generations. Those who came before us; parents, teachers and grandparents have all seen so much in their lifetime. Life is hard sometimes and they’ve stuck around for all of the punches that have been thrown their way. Some may say they don’t deserve recognition because they don’t share the same lifestyle as younger generations. That belief could not be farther from the truth because they have seen many generations and can compare them. They have a literal lifetime of knowledge which can be used to dictate how they want to live their lives.

The young boy and who turned out to be his grandmother came to the pool every Tuesday to practice. One time I stopped the boy and told him that it was really nice of his grandma to help him. He replied, ”Oh she’s not teaching me. I’m teaching her.” He proceeded to tell me that his grandma has Alzheimer’s and when she was younger she loved to swim. He cared about her enough to reteach her how to swim every Tuesday just so he could see her eyes light up again. If a preteen boy can learn to treat elders with respect, I think anyone is capable of it.

As a younger generation, we can give back to those who took care of us by giving them a whole new side of life. On top of giving them the respect they deserve, we can find ways to bring joy back into their lives. Payback those who got us where we are, and, in the meantime, try to improve their lives.

Jeanette Tanko
Ellie Tanko spends time with her elderly great grandma.


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Old is Gold