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I read Under One Roof: Lessons I Learned from a Tough Old Woman in a Little Old House ‘ by Barry Martin this weekend.
Barry Martin, construction worker, befriended Edith, a lady who had led the most extraordinary life, and now in her 80s was determined not to sell her house, even for a million dollars, so that a shopping center could be built.
We meet many people during our lifetime, and sometimes we’re lucky enough to meet those have a profound effect on our lives. They can teach us about ourselves, and about others. And so it was with Barry and Edith. He was a really good man, one of those who do the right thing, no matter how much of his time it took.
Barry states numerous times in the book that one of the biggest things Edith taught him was that we do so much for older people to make ourselves feel better, or to make things easier for ourselves, not really for them. We think we’re doing it for them, but really we do what we think that they need us to do, not what they want. We don’t always listen to what they’re trying to tell us. Sometimes people just want to know that someone is there for them, as a friend – they don’t want to be constantly helped.
Edith also shows us that there is more to people than we think. The grumpy man in the shop has a story, just as the friendly smiley man does. Those in their retirement years have years of experience – led often interesting, sometimes difficult lives. To be let into that world, to hear the stories and get to know what is behind the face that we see, is a privilege that we should treasure.
A ‘must read’ for everyone. We shall all have close relationships with elderly people at some stage – wonderful people whose advanced years not only means that they need support in different ways, but that their decisions are part of who they are and should be respected and acted upon.