[private] Old is defined as having lived or existed for a long time. Long used, not young, not new, elderly, aged, not modern, of long standing, of the past, experienced, and my personal favorite, worn out. You certainly have your choice of definitions when it comes to the aging or elderly. Take your pick.
Growing up on Roatan during the 50s and 60s, there were two old gentlemen that I recall fondly, both of whom I considered my mentors. One was my former elementary school teacher, Mr. Victor Stanley, known to most simply as “Maestro” or “Bud Vic.” The other was Mr. Edrick Smith, better know as “Bud Eddy.” I grew up without a father figure, and these two men were more than adequate substitutes.
Even though I have been privileged to attend several prestigious institutions of higher learning, these two individuals still stand in my memory as two of the most influential and knowledgeable persons I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Mr. Victor Stanley, “Maestro,” was well informed about politics, education and general knowledge. He was also a skilled mathematician. He and I would sit on the beach for hours at a time talking about history, politics and life in general as I sat in awe of his remarkable knowledge and understanding about these subjects. I would persistently ask questions, to which he would patiently provide answers. I felt that I was the beneficiary of a lifetime of valuable experience imparted to me graciously and unselfishly.
With “Bud Eddy,” Mr. Edrick Smith, the topic was mostly sports, particularly baseball and current events. We used to sit on his front porch in Half Moon Bay, sometimes until almost midnight discussing and arguing these topics. I never tired of his fascinating stories and incredible insights into the world of amateur and professional sports.
I loved these two dear old men and I firmly believe that they felt the same way about me. We shared a special bond, a mutual respect, a deep and abiding friendship. After they passed away, I was never the same. The void that their passing created has to this day never been filled. I miss them even now.
Yes, years ago we placed a greater value on the advice and knowledge imparted to us by our elders. I believe that in today’s Bay Island culture, youth is venerated and old age is diminished. Scientific knowledge has gained prestige over acquired knowledge and experience. It seems to me that today our elders have no clear role; they appear to be living in a different dimension.
What a shame! We could learn so much from their rich life experiences and acquired wisdom. Many times I sit and ponder what it would be like to have one more conversation with Maestro or my old pal Bud Eddy. Even at this stage of my life, I sometimes find myself desiring their counsel. Today, the counsel of our elders is seldom sought, and I think we are all diminished because of it. I do not know exactly when this change took place; but I recognize that it has happened and that we are all the poorer because of it. I submit to you that we have relegated our elderly to a category or class of people basically without a real voice and unable to exercise their capabilities.
Maybe it is not too late to reverse the course we are currently on. It certainly would be nice if we did. But, as it now stands, when it comes to the elderly, to quote Yogi Berra, “The future isn’t what it used to be.” Perhaps former U.S. Vice-President Dan Quayle’s prediction will come true; he is reported to have remarked that “the future will be better tomorrow.” [/private]