Over at Oliviaobryon Olivia O. is blogging about her trip to the Pacific Northwest. Almost each post has struck a chord with me. Whether it’s her visit to Olympia, where the beer of my childhood originated or her most recent post about her interaction with an old man while on a hike with friends. First, it appears she was in Reedsport, which was one of our stops when my family visited Oregon a few years ago and, more importantly, is one of the reasons I must live along the Oregon Coast at some point in my life. Such a beautiful part of the world.
But, there’s also the interaction with the oldster along the trail. It’s so similar to my experience with my friend’s dad a couple of months ago. The only real difference is that I’ve known Everett for most of my life, although not very well. I don’t really have any memories of him interacting with Jon and I when we were younger. In fact, I really only got to know him after Jon passed away. On the other hand, Olivia O’s experience was with a stranger. And these two old men apparently have the same thing going on — they are alone and don’t want to be.
There are three things about my visit with Everett that have stayed with me:
1. How alone he is in an intimate, emotional sense. He craves female companionship and friendship. I spoke with him this week and he let on that there is a woman he believes may be interested in him and he is working on it. I wish him the best of luck in that search.
2. How, fifteen years after his only child passed away, he still craves a connection to him. I’m working on putting together a gathering of Jon’s friends with Everett joining us so he can spend some time with us. When I told him my idea, he cried. He remains, a couple of months later, very enthusiastic and interested in this happening. In August.
3. That I need to get over my impatience with the elderly. It’s one of my biggest weaknesses and I hate that it is there, but I just don’t have the time or desire to engage with older people. When I sit down with Everett, I want to give him everything I possibly can to fill the holes in his life. I can’t give him much, but I want to figure out what it is that I can. I think my interactions with Everett may go a long way towards getting over this hurdle I have.
So, back to Olivia O’s post. I totally understand her conflict. Maybe, somewhere along the way we can all learn a little bit from it … it’s not a bad idea to slow down, to stop and smell the roses, to pause for a moment and spend some time with somebody who wants nothing more than time, an ear to listen, and a conversation.