4 Lessons from an Octogenarian

I am quite certain there are many more than just 4 lessons we can all learn from those who have lived over 80 years. The list of what I have learned from my parents, both over 80, is infinite. In fact I wrote a book which highlights many of these!

Recently, my mother had to undergo a hip replacement, and though she has not sailed through the experience, she continues to teach through her actions how to embrace and meet challenges head on. These 4 lessons are applicable to each of us – every day – with the routine challenges in life.

1. Do what you have to do. This surgery was elective. She knew that without it her mobility would continue to be hindered and gradually get worse. So, she hunkered down and made the decision to go forward with it. She did not want the side effects to the general anesthesia, so she (again) hunkered down, and had only a spinal (!!) with no general anesthesia for her full hip replacement!! And now, in her recovery, she powers through the exercises as a real trooper. When I ask her how she was doing just the other day, she stated as matter of  fact, “You know, Kristin, you just do what you have to do.” Period.

2. Slow down. Everyone is in such a hurry. There is nothing like a knee or hip replacement to slow you down! You pay attention to every step, every turn, every person in your path. There is amazing benefit to slowing down. You see things you may normally miss. You engage with others you may not make time for when you are moving at a normally hair-on-fire pace. What we must miss each day – by simply not being present!

3. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Mom left the hospital with admirers from the most unlikely places. The nurses, the assistants, and even the others in her wing at the hospital. Though she was in pain or knocked loopy with the pain medication, she was jovial and kind to those who were trying to help her. This is not always easy when your body is not functioning and you are impatient with not being able to do the things that just 2 days before were standard operating procedure. Yet, rather than to lash out in frustration, I watched as she engaged others and asked with all sincerity about their lives, their children, what enticed them to do what they do, etc. She left knowing more about them, than they did about her. Amazing and a huge lesson on many levels.

4. This, too, will pass. For those of us who have known folks who have endured hip, shoulder, or knee surgery, we know it is not a quick-fix recovery. It is laborious. It hurts and requires daily discipline to work the injury. Yet, the constant mantra is “that this, too, will pass”. This is a speed bump which we can – and do – get over.

These lessons are universal truths which often are highlighted when we, or those we love, face challenges. Yet, they are lessons which can be applied each and every day in our personal and professional lives.

What lessons have those “over 80” taught you? Please share with us!