Gero-Punk Ponderings: What kind of ancestor do you want to become?

What kind of ancestor do you want to become?

To ponder such a question invites us to explore the realm of legacy, Gero-Punk style.

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legacy

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Legacy can transcend the bounds of time-place-space.

Legacy goes in all directions, is deeply, fundamentally relational, and encompasses much more than mere material resources.

By “all directions,” I mean that legacy is trans- and inter-generational and not exclusively about transmission of something important to younger generations from older generations. Legacy can be transmitted in the other direction, as well, and in all directions at once.

By “fundamentally relational,” I mean that the creation of legacy happens in the context of cultivated, on-going relationships (And between both the “living” and the “no-longer-living”; that is, a member of a legacy-creating relationship may no longer be alive but still very present and influential to others, such as the role my Gramma continues to play in my life).

Legacy is an expression of deep, consequential and reverberating connections between humans (and other creatures as well).

A larger-mind view of legacy is that it is about intentionally creating the causes and conditions necessary for a vital present and future life for not only our family members and friends and other closest-in people, but for all living creatures. As such, members of multiple generations traveling through the life course simultaneously join together to pass-around (rather than pass-down) resources. These resources certainly may be material in the traditional sense of legacy – money, property, possessions – but are, importantly and primarily, ethical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional.

Legacy may entail carrying on the traditions and practices of another person who is no longer living (or perhaps whom we never met in person but through the stories told about them), such as by adopting — embodying and enacting – their quintessential characteristics or commitments: a particular habit-of-speech, a jaunty hat they always wore, or their singular role in a larger system. In this way, the special person continues to exist but in a different form, and we are forever changed – and changing — because of our relationship with them.

Lastly, a larger trans-personal view of legacy encompasses non-human creatures, the planet, and our universe, as well as future humans whom we’ll not know because we will no longer be living, but for whom we care nonetheless (and who may someday in the future learn and care about us, their ancestors, as well.).

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What kind of ancestor do you want to become?

Why not start practicing now?

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Gero-Punk Tribute: Haikus for a friend

curious happy

In Tribute to Happenstance (Happy) Sasser-Coen

2005-2020

By Jenny Sasser & Simeon Dreyfuss

I.

On a rainy day;

fire-warmed, our slowed dog’s legs twitch.

In dreams we run.

II.

Our friend, Mister Dog,

knocked all his food and water

on the kitchen floor.

III.

I wonder as we walk—

the old dog and me—

what speed is slower than slow?

IV.

Part way down the block

he leans against the fence—the

ground always spinning.

V.

Slow walk under trees,

morning air so soft –

summer treat for an old dog.

VI.

barking at his bed

contagious doggie nightmare

no one sleeps

VII.

Head down, white muzzled,

he leans against a fence—the

ground always spinning.

VIII.

What speed is slower

than slow? I ask. Our old dog

in sniffing heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

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Gero-Punk Adventures: Aging in Place (part four)

happy neighborhood

We had traveled half a block down our neighborhood street, walking so slowly through the morning chill that we risked toppling over. At the time, Happenstance (“Happy,” for short) was 15 and his dog’s life would soon come to an end. I, his loyal companion, had recently celebrated my 53rd birthday.

Happy had just come to a wobbly stop and was deeply involved in sniffing the grass in front of Tamar’s house right as she happened to be heading down the block toward us, a grocery bag in each hand. I waved to her and wondered to myself where she was returning home from at such an early hour and what she was carrying in the grocery bags.  She was likely walking home from the bus stop up on 17th avenue.  Tamar usually rides the bus – always has as she never learned to drive – although most Sundays a family member or friend gives her a ride to church and out for a special meal.

Tamar waved back at me, smiling shyly.  Happy and I waited in front of her house for her to arrive so we could chit-chat and catch up. After exchanging pleasantries, Tamar asked me if it had been me who had left the big bag of persimmons on her front stoop a few weeks back and thanked me for my thoughtfulness if indeed it had been.  She mentioned, as she had many times before, how much her late husband Sanjay loved persimmons and what a treat they are to receive and how many happy memories they hold.

Our conversation then turned to my daughter Isobel, who had just returned to Paris, France after having been home for the winter holidays. Tamar mentioned having caught a couple of glimpses of Izzy and how proud she was of her and the young woman she has become. And wouldn’t Connie – who used to live in a house right across the street from Tamar — be so proud of Izzy, too? Connie and Tamar are still best friends though Connie died three years ago after having been long-ago widowed. Connie didn’t believe in Halloween but every October 31st during Izzy’s childhood she would show up on our front stoop before dusk, a bag of candy in hand to offer to Izzy, a reverse Trick-or-Treat.

Halloween happens to be one of my favorite holidays, so having an empty nest for the past several years has meant that unless at least a couple of neighborhood kids deign to cast a shadow on my stoop, I’m plunged into a dark place made all the worse by the surfeit of unclaimed mini candy bars with which I’m left. Halloween 2018 was particularly bleak, so much so that I told my tale of woe to the two little girls who live in the house in between my house and Tamar’s house.  The big sister of the pair who – you might be interested to know — gives spontaneous backyard solo performances of improvised songs about the hassles of having a little sister and parents who thwart her most amazing plans, made a promise on the spot to not leave me alone on future Halloweens.  She and little sister and a small gang of their pals made good and showed up on the most recent Halloween, demanding treats (and big sister proudly announcing that she had fulfilled her promise to me!).

Fred – Connie and Tamar’s other best friend, and one of my best friends, too – never got to meet the two little neighbor girls as he died well over a decade ago, before they were born. But wonderful Fred, who lived in the same house for 80 years, next to Connie and across from me, knew their parents and he has been made real to the little girls through the stories their parents tell about him, the angel of our neighborhood.

Fred is gone and so is his resplendent, unruly garden, the paradise where I spent many summers working at his side, in its place a new, huge house and a new tenant I have yet to meet.  Connie is gone and so is her sprawling, singular brick house, replaced by another new, huge house occupied by a family I’ve met but once and whom I rarely see.  But Tamar and I and the little girls and their parents still dwell in our mature, unassuming homes, and we still remember Connie and Fred (and John, who lived two blocks over, on the way to the park), and love them still, not only in memory but actively in the present, because of who they were in our lives, and the rich connections we mutually cultivated.

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Notes:

  1. This essay is part four of an ongoing series of essays exploring the lived experience of aging in particular times, places, and spaces. You can read more here  and here and here!
  2. The image at the beginning of the essay is a photo of a little surprise I found when I was walking in my neighborhood park.
  3. If you are wondering who Fred is, you can learn more about him here.
  4. What’s on your mind these days? Be in touch!
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