I was out buying tomato plants for the garden the other day and it brought back memories of my thirteenth Summer. I was in Boy Scouts and took on a project to teach crafts at Ashton Woods Convalescent Center a few miles from my home. I remember being excited to get to teach leatherwork and other crafts to the residents. While a few took part, I remember after a while my interest turned from teaching to learning.
Many of my free hours at the center were spent helping Mr. Farnell with the community vegetable garden. He was confined to his wheelchair, but with his knowledge and my arms, we raised an outstanding garden that year. I don’t think I’ve ever been that successful with tomatoes, peppers, squash and the like. That Summer he shared with me many stories of his life, his work with A&P grocery. But largely he taught me how to appreciate the beauty of life. The joy of helping God make something grow.
Many of the gardening techniques he shared with me are still with me today.
Many of the residents made a lasting impression on me that year.
Mrs. McMahan was a simple joy to be around. She was the type of person who could just make you smile when she walked in the room. In spite of her battles with bad health, her outlook was always uplifting. From her I learned that even the worst day can be faced with a smile.
Mr. And Mrs. Boxley both lived in the center. To me they seemed like a wonderful couple. They both had a spirit to enjoy life. They took each moment and did all they could with it. They both shared a passion for bird watching. They shared it with me. I still have a bird book Mrs. Boxley gave to me after Mr. Boxley passed away. Yesterday I saw a most unique bird with blue back and crimson front. There’s not a day that I see a bird I’ve never seen before they those two don’t cross my mind.
Mrs. Petit was one of the first severe stroke patients with which I spent time. She had lost the use of one side of her body and spoke only with great effort. I learned the importance of perseverance from her. No matter what craft project we undertook, she made every effort to do her part.
There were dozens of patients that Summer who I met and who became a part of my childhood. Many shared with me bits and pieces of their knowledge, their wisdom. Many were glad to share the company of a young person who was sincerely interested in them.
A boy scout project brought me there, but it was the people who kept me coming back for years to come. Eventually the folks I had grown close to were all called home. I often wish we could visit today, talk about where I’ve been and how they played a part in making me who I am today. I guess they are with me, even though I cannot speak with them. They speak to me in memories, in the things they taught me. When I’m digging in the garden to plant the tomatoes, I can still envision Mr. Farnell sitting next to me saying “Dig a little deeper son, those roots need room to grow.”
I often wonder what wisdom I will leave on this earth once I’m gone. Who will remember the things that were important to me? Will I leave a legacy of Wisdom? I hope so, because within me, there are so many people who I would like to see live on in what I share.
If you have never took the time to visit with older members of your family, church, community. I encourage you to spend some time with them. Listen to their stories, even though you think you may have heard them a thousand times. When they are gone, you will struggle to bring those moments back in your mind. You may even wish you had written the wisdom they shared down.
Often times with the people that we see the most, we neglect to cherish the times and wisdom they are sharing.
Wisdom can be shared. It can be passed from one to another, if only we are open to learning. Sometimes, only with age the wisdom of what has been shared with us will become apparent. But it is never too early to start accumulating shared wisdom. Someday it will come in handy.