The “Occupy” movement has lost some steam, but it is alive and well if one has an elderly relative that is confined. My dad is a resident in a state operated veteran’s home and has LOTS of spare time during the day. He is a voracious reader, and even manages to compose an article for the monthly newsletter. But that is not nearly enough.
Dad needed a reason to write and an audience that might appreciate his endeavors. For Dad, it is as much about being appreciated and useful at 87 years as it is about anything else. Enter my wife, a first grade teacher in need of an ample supply of poetry that could be read, enjoyed, and replicated. She suggested that Dad compose a few poems for her class to read and respond to while staying within the boundaries that she provided.
Dad was quick to the task and was ready with some pointed with questions about topics that would be appropriate and universal for all the kids. Within a day or so, he had provided the first installment of his poetry via email. He soon had enough poems for everyone in the class to have their own.
The students responded with copies, illustrations, performances, and some of their own creations. They are now packaging some of those results to send him as evidence of their efforts. And the cycle continues.
Writers, especially children, need an audience and a purpose larger than we realize. As the aging process unfolds, some adults also need the same thing. Dad is one of those adults. For a while, he is occupied.
The connections are obvious about the children and older folks, but we all need to be reminded of the great resources that abound in our families and communities. It’s time to leverage those resources for everyone’s benefit.