Friday, October 28, 2016

Generational Convergence

Over the past few years, I've learned that the Heir is the grandson every senior citizen would love to have. He's a helper. He's patient. He's diplomatic and kind. And he knows technology. By volunteering at the library to help local senior citizens with their technology, he learned this too. E-readers? Ipads? Laptops? Printers? Cell phones? If you've got questions, he's got answers. Of course he was groomed by helping his own grandparents, so this seemed a natural transition. But I have to admit, the former IT Help Desk manager in me is very proud of his professionalism in dealing with strangers this way.
One day after work, he came home from the library and mentioned that he'd met a man who reminded him of his late Grandpa. 

The Heir: "He was really smart and sweet." 

Me: "Oh yes? What did he need? Were you able to help him?"

The Heir: "Yeah, I showed him how to set up a profile at an online dating site."

Me: ....

What struck me most about the conversation was that, to The Heir, this was no big deal. Just another day at work. But to me, it was surprising. Which of course begged the question, what does that say about me?

For one thing, senior dating sites exist for a reason. There's a demand and people older than me don't stop living and dating and loving just because they are widowed or divorced or... older than me. I admit none of this had ever crossed my radar. So I had to examine why. Was I stereotyping? Biased? Part of the problem in today's society that overlooks and underestimates the aging population on a regular basis?

The kindest answer that made the most sense is that my parents and in-laws all had marriages that lasted over 50 years. Till death did they part, in the case of my in-laws, and my parents are still alive and well and together. 

But the truthful answer is, I am blind to the needs of our population's seniors. I don't think about them because I don't have to. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't. They are part of my community and, as my son's actions reminded me, can benefit from services and people in that community, including me.

I have no personal experience with seniors who want to date. The fact that options exist for them, and that this man was brave enough to go to the library and ask for help in utilizing said options, from a teenager no less, made me smile. 

I hope never to be in the situation where I need to date again. But if I am, I hope I have the guts to go outside my comfort zone as this man did. I hope to have the options my community offers its seniors, and that the teenager who helps me is as kind, patient and genuinely caring as the Heir was. 

And if I'm honest, I hope I'm lucky enough to meet a man like the one he met at the library. I'd love to tell him the story of how once, when he was a teenager, my son helped a stranger--and me--learn something new.