When I was a child in elementary school, I had the privilege of sitting cross-legged at the feet of a woman who many of us adored. She had silver hair and bright blue eyes which made her stand out from the crowd, and she was gifted in telling stories. But not just any story. She made our history come alive as she recounted the chronicles of Canada in its infancy. We would listen to her for long periods of time, and considering our age, that was a miracle. Learning in this manner was fun, and if we had been asked, “What did you study in school today”, we would have had a myriad of interesting facts and information to report. For when Mrs. O’Neil spoke, we listened and we absorbed.
Mrs. O’Neil, a first rate retired teacher, wheeled herself from classroom to classroom assisting the regular staff in teaching a variety of subjects. No one commented that she sat in a wheel chair, nor did we know that she lived in a residence that was specially designed for senior living needs. To her students, she was an authority in what she taught, and all we knew is that we looked forward to her coming.
Many of us would benefit from having a Mrs. O’Neil in our lives today. Over the last several years as I have conversed with seniors during my travels in various retirement communities, I have been reminded of that memorable teacher. Like Mrs. O’Neil they too have fascinating life-adventures. During these times, I have obtained helpful information that has enriched my life immeasurably. They’ve been there, done that and got the T-Shirt.……and they have so much to give.
However, when considering who might come and speak at the next Association Meeting, our thoughts often turn to those who currently hold a high position, are earning large salaries, who have a certain charisma, or are headlining the evening news. But have we inadvertently overlooked an important segment of our population? Have we ever considered approaching a senior; one like Mrs. O’Neil, who may or may not live in residence, to come and share their personal expertise? Many would just love the opportunity. Why not try? It would provide a rich and rewarding experience for the speaker and for the audience. I know it did for me.
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