A Catholic Monthly Magazine

“You are an Old Lady, Granny”

by Bridget Taumoepeau

Some time ago, I was at a playground with my grandson, who was about four at the time. He suggested I undertake some activity, which I thought was a bit beyond me, so I declined. He looked up and asked, “Is that because you are an old lady, Granny?”

On hearing this, a young mother at the playground looked shocked and asked me to confirm that that was what he had said. I had enough presence of mind to say that there had been no disrespect, that he was correct in his assessment of the situation and that I often told my grandchildren that I was indeed ‘an old lady.’

However, I was saddened by her response. There was nothing but kindness in the child’s remark, just wanting to understand that there were certain things that an older person might not want to do. Pope Francis often reminds us that we must respect and care for the elderly, that we should value their wisdom and foster the relationship between the young and the old.

Why would this young woman consider the remark rude? If I had told the child he could not do something because he was too young, there would have been no disapproval. The relationship between young and old, especially in a family, is precious – acknowledging the inquiring mind of one and the life experience of the other. All valued, all comfortable with the stage they are at, not striving to be something different, and learning from one another.

And so I am happy to be ‘an old lady,’ happier still to watch the energy and adventurousness of the young, knowing that one day they will also, God willing, be old. I hope they will be secure in the knowledge that we all have our place in the world and in each other’s lives, and that no one is of less value than the other.

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