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How to Feel Good As You Age
A Voice of Experience
by John Barnett

Page 147
Writing letters is a wonderful art. But it is insufficient by itself as a means of keeping in touch with your adult children living at a distance. Three-fourths of seniors talk on the phone with adult children at least weekly. Ask your children to telephone you at set times during the week. Make telephone time pleasant and informative. Instead of complaining about your neighbor's cat digging in your garden, assure your children that you are well and appreciate their call. Resist the temptation to talk at length about people they do not know and in whom they have no interest. But do tell them about health and living problems and successes, and be open to any suggestions. They will be happy to be involved. If there are serious health problems, ask your children to get a briefing by telephone directly from your doctor. Give them the number and the best time to talk with the doctor. This applies to your main caregivers whether or not they are your children.
As older adults become increasingly homebound, a day when the telephone does not ring can cause loneliness. Call friends often to have short conversations. It will nurture the friendship, ease depression, and be a benefit for all concerned. Also, these communication routines will serve as a way of alerting others to a potential problem. When friends call and offer to help, make a note for the future if you cannot think of any immediate need. Later, call them and say, "Thank you for offering to help the other day. Now I do have a request. Tell me if you cannot do it."

Page 233
Forgiving is a tougher job than expressing gratitude. But do you want to shackle yourself to the painful past? Remember, if you don't forgive, you are giving the person who hurt you permission to keep on hurting you. Forgiving is spiritual surgery on yourself. Your positive action could prevent a negative pattern from being passed down to the next generation. We are all models for good or evil.
There is no greater disaster
Than enemy-making
For then you lose your treasure,
Your peace.
When conflict arises,
Compassion always prevails.

—Tao 69

Don't confuse forgiving with forgetting. You will never forget. But if you forgive, the painful memory will grow smaller. Do not forgive people for being what they are. Forgive them only for what they do. Or visualize that person and see if there is at least one commendable characteristic. That is a start. Open yourself up to the possibility of a new relationship.

All excerpts from How to Feel GOOD As You Age,
Copyright 2000 by John Barnett.

© VanderWyk & Burnham. All Rights Reserved.