The Cassia Life

How to Really Love an Old Guy

In a few words, be present and attentive.

In other words, be there, constantly and faithfully.

To really love an old guy, love so that he knows it.

In any emotion-based endeavor, long-lasting support is love from the heart.

It works for women, too. I have a granddaughter, Aemilii, who with husband Don wants to become a missionary to Mongolia, China. I gave them a little cash but a big chunk of my heart, the latter being the gift that will sustain them for the long pull. 

Do you have an old guy in your family, your church, or your general acquaintance who often is peculiar, opinionated, maybe grouchy, and who you find it hard to be kind to, to be loving to? Recommendations follow.

First, however, credit needs given to a reader of this blog, a close friend who lives at Augustana Apartments in Minneapolis, as I do. She suggested the topic because of a related piece she had re-discovered in a pile of older papers. This paper was entitled, ”How to Love a Child.” It carried no indication of its origin, however it did help us think through the deeper aspects of how the ideas related as well to seniors, especially old guys.

My friend asked that her name not appear, but the printed sheet she handed me, along with our edit, marked my path forward.

  • To love a cantankerous old guy and be as constantly present to him as possible, be ready with a smile, a chuckle. Tall order, but he’ll like it!
  • Reveal your own dreams.
  • Say yes as often as you can.
  • Read books and short stories out loud to each other, with joy.
  • Write and mail prayer letters to God.
  • Keep the gleam in your eye, and encourage his.
  • Play Scrabble.
  • Encourage being a bit silly.
  • Stop yelling; express your love instead.
  • Say you’re sorry when you should be.
  • Handle with caring.

My journalistic good luck continued when I was referred to Dr. Colter Ray at the School of Communication at San Diego State University. There, along with other tasks, Dr. Ray is director of the Human Communication Laboratory.

“Yes, old guys are often peculiar, opinionated, and (sometimes) grouchy,” he reflected, “But the most important thing is to actually listen to what they have to say and to go a step further and ask questions that help you understand why they believe or do what they do.”

Dr. Ray then tackled a very pragmatic example when he turned to the matter of how people, at times, try to reconcile differences of political opinion between parents and their kids.

“It might seem inconceivable to you that parents and their kids would vote for different candidates because many families impart values across generations.

“But what I’ve found is that if you seek to understand instead of to argue or persuade, it can be really enlightening to hear the reasons behind the opinions. 

“You don’t have to suddenly agree with the person, but understanding  why they believe what they do can help you avoid writing them off as a terrible person altogether.

“It is so easy to write someone off by overgeneralizing and letting their stance on one issue completely define them. It’s a lazy way to think. So whether it is the grouchy old guy or the neighbor with a political yard sign you don’t agree with, you might be surprised that there is a person behind those beliefs and opinions who just wants to be heard in a civil way,“ concludes Dr. Ray.

Well said!  We all can learn from the professor’s ideas.

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