Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dignity Diminished at Bridal Shower

This weekend is a family wedding. Grandfathers have passed away, but grandmothers on the groom’s side will be flying to Texas for the occasion. I haven’t met the bride or her family so I have no idea of the generations that will be represented on her side. One thing I do know, weddings are almost always intergenerational events, giving old and young the opportunity to interact easily, sharing a common, celebratory feeling during that brief period of time.

I’m reminded once again of Katy’s mother, who we met in the last post. But this time she had a diminishing experience, that even Katy couldn’t have predicted, when she attended a bridal shower for her granddaughter several years ago. Katy’s mother was 86 at the time, without wheel chair and a bit younger than she was in the last post. After the shower as they were driving home she reported to Katy (who sat no where near her mother at the shower) that a “young girl” (actually an adult in her early twenties) came over, introduced herself, sat down, and they had “a really nice conversation” until the end when the “girl” was getting ready to leave and said: “I really enjoyed talking with you, Gran.”

Katy’s mother was incensed at being called “Gran” (a name even her grandchildren didn’t use). No amount of explaining or rationalizing that this was probably the endearing term the “girl” used with her own grandmother, could erase the negative effect of a young woman’s well-intentioned conversation with the bride-to-be’s grandmother, who considered herself a capable, normal woman--not an old lady.

It’s hard to get into the head of older people, but older people have shared with me so that a wider audience can understand certain ways of thinking. For most, the importance of being respected and not considered "old" top of the list (along with independence, decent health and good friends).

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