The following article was originally published in November 2016.
With older Americans facing the reality of self-quarantine due to the CoronaVirus pandemic (staff edit) , the old telephone company slogan is apt, especially when it comes to elders, who may not make new friends as their old friends die or move away.
There’s a powerful quote attributed to Audrey Hepburn: “As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
Traditionally, Thanksgiving was a time to express gratitude for the prior year’s harvest. Perhaps our own sense of sufficiency, whether in terms of friends or finances, stems from how grateful we are the rest of the year for gifts already received: gratitude itself is a form of largesse. Being thankful shifts our focus from lack to abundance, and aligns (or realigns) us with our values.
Alone or All One: A Subtle Shift
Indigenous cultures inherently model this sense of sufficiency. Because they live close to nature, they haven’t lost touch with their own nature. The philosophy “unto the seventh generation” holds that in all of our decisions, we should consider the impact of seven generations in the future (approximately 140 years). It’s a concept often lost in a culture of immediacy. What it means is that in lieu of feasting until our bellies are bloated and then spending the following day shopping till we drop, there are other ways to show gratitude for a good harvest, metaphorically as well as literally.
How might reverse mortgage professionals help alleviate the epidemic of loneliness among seniors today, and fulfill Hepburn’s maxim? Here is one of LO’s example:
“Last week I visited a male friend who is now 102 years old and undergoing rehab treatment in a restorative care facility. We have been friends for many years, and he is someone I greatly admire. He was in bed and weak, but clearheaded, retaining his sense of humor. I was there for a short while and brought him a bag of Hershey miniatures — his favorites.
“After I left, I thought to myself, ‘I sure feel good about this visit, and I know he did as well.’
“Another example is a family friend in failing health, whose activities are severely limited now. Her diet is restricted as well. I decided to make a batch of chicken salad for her and her caregiver — no salt added — and brought it to her. She was just thrilled. Again: the fact that someone was thinking about her and cared.
“My point is:
- We need to value our friends with action.
- People in recovery need some contact with the outside world to know they are not forgotten.
- It makes us feel good inside, and we should set aside time from our own busy schedules to be supportive of others when they need it.
“We help others through our work, but sometimes we don’t do enough for our families and our friends.”
Enough Love to Spare and Share
Inspirational speaker and author Bob Perks’ signature story, “I Wish You Enough” also exemplifies the inestimable value of this essential connection to those we care about, particularly seniors.
Perks overheard a father and daughter saying goodbye at the airport. They hugged, and the dad said, “I love you. I wish you enough.” She, in turn, said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.”
After the daughter departed, the father, struggling to contain his tears, shared that this was a final farewell. Perks asked why.
“I am old and she lives much too far away. The reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral,” he said.
Perks then questioned, “When you were saying goodbye I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?
“He began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.’ He paused for a moment, and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more. ‘When we said “I wish you enough,” we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them,’ he continued, and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.
“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough ‘Hello’s’ to get you through the final ‘Goodbye.'”
Giving and Receiving the Gift
This Thanksgiving, no matter where you are, no matter what your circumstances, decide to celebrate your life, and the lives of those you serve, whether in the capacity of HECM loan originator, as a friend, or both. Rejoice in the enough-ness that you are, simply by virtue of being alive. Give the gift of enough to those you love, and allow your gratitude to expand in every direction.
That’s the true Thanksgiving spirit, hands down.