Some days make us extra thankful for our senior citizens. The last Monday in May is one of those. Memorial Day.
Now, if you know who we honor on that holiday, you may think I’m confused. After all, Memorial Day distinctly grieves those veterans who died in war—And not too many veterans served in war after they reached the age of 62 or beyond.
Those who made the ultimate sacrifice never had the chance to become senior citizens. To share their grey-haired wisdom with grandkids. To tell all the stories and live all the dreams. Fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, cousins, grandpas—with lives cut short.
And it makes us realize how blessed we are to have the senior citizens we do have.
So one way to honor those soldiers we’ve lost is to learn more about who they might have been now had they lived. Find out what we’ve lost in not having them grow old with us.
The best way to do that? Visit your favorite senior citizen or local assisted living community and start asking questions about those they’ve loved and lost.
Frontida Senior Living Facilities, like Frontida of Germantown, provide you with posts like this one to help you live your best life.
1. Ask a Senior If They Lost a Loved One in One of the Wars
- 62-year-olds lived through—and probably remember—Vietnam, Grenada, the Gulf Wars, and Afghanistan.
- 72-year-olds experienced those wars, plus Vietnam.
- For 82-year-olds, add the Korean War.
- 92-year-olds, WWII.
- 102-year-olds—yes, according to the 2021 census, there are almost 90,000 octogenarians in the US. These dear people were born just after WWI. But they may have grown up hearing about Daddy or Uncle Mike who died in the bloodiest Meuse–Argonne Offensive.
2. Ask for More Details about the Loved One’s Death
- What made the soldier join the military?
- What was his job?
- How old was he when he died?
- How did he die?
- What war was it?
- Who did he leave behind?
3. Ask about Their Connection to That Loved One
- How did they know the soldier?
- How long did they know her?
- What types of things did they do together? Did they serve together?
- Was the soldier an extravert? Introvert? The class clown? Studious?
- What are their favorite memories of her?
4. Ask What They Most Miss about That Loved One
- Was he the first to help with the dishes? The last one to turn out the light?
- The only one to understand their fascination with kumquats?
- Did he have a voice like silk when he sang the Top 10 hits? The best footwork when he cut a rug? The ability to quote any movie…baseball stats…Bible verse?
5. What Part of Their Lives Did Their Loved One Miss Out On When He Died?
- Walking them down the aisle? Seeing their children born? Graduate?
- Their star role in the local community theater? Their standing up to the local bully?
- The chance to teach them to throw a touchdown?
6. Ask What that Loved One Might Have Loved Doing in His or Her Retired Years
- Fishing? Golf? A quiet night in front of the fireplace with a book? A rip-roaring trip to the rides at 6 Flags Great America?
- Bingo night? Mother’s Day Tea? Silver Sneakers Club at the local mall?
- Teaching the youth about technology? Writing his memoirs? Creating a cookbook of spicy brunch recipes?
7. Ask What that Loved One Might Be Most Surprised at Now
- Cell phones? Alexa? The way computers control every part of our lives?
- Self-driving cars?
- The cost of eggs? (Okay, we’re all surprised at that.)
8. Listen to Hear
The more you listen, the more you’ll understand, and the more you’ll know just what we honor and grieve in the ones we’ve lost to war. Added bonus—you’ll learn more about the senior citizens that we’re still blessed to have.
A gift from those who died so that we might be free.
Need a great place for your favorite senior citizen to live where he can enjoy time with people his own age? Check out Frontida’s loving assisted living facilities, like Frontida of Germantown.
Check out these other posts to learn more about your grandparents’ past.
Elizabeth Daghfal is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community volunteer. When she isn't teaching or writing-- Who are we kidding? Her husband and five kids say she's ALWAYS teaching and writing. She has a passion to help people who are struggling and is happy to say her shoulders are drip-dry. Born and raised in the South, she now lives in Wisconsin and loves it--except for the fifteen months of winter. Read more about her at elizabethdaghfal.com.