As children old timers were taught to be courteous, especially to their elders.
From around the 12th or 13th Century comes the French word courtesy. The noun courtesy refers to an act that is performed as an expression of respect. If a person respects someone it follows that they are courteous to that person in return. Polite behavior is an expression of courtesy. It is a display of excellent manners in dealing with another person.
So it follows that as seniors enter into their twilight years they would expect a degree of courteousness from other people; especially other people whom they are paying to serve their needs.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sales clerks, rather than behaving courteously in their dealings with older people, tend to be rather abrupt and discourteous. Likewise, when an older person is seeking information or some other form of help from folks in the bureaucracy he or she is often treated abruptly; rather than courteously—for no apparent reason. Granted, sometimes older folks seem to be a bit slow to understand, but they’re not stupid; so they resent being treated as though they were.
When one considers the travails older people have undergone over the last eight or nine decades; hurdles they climbed without the aid of Big Brother, but rather through their own grit and tenacity, it seems to follow naturally that they would be due some degree of courtesy. But this is not always the case.
And, one might logically ask: Why?
That is the question; but where and what is the answer.
Can people not tear themselves away from their cell phone or our I-pod to deal courteously with an older person?
Is civility too much to ask for in our daily dealings with older people?
Must it always be assumed that an older person is computer literate, or that he or she is comfortable around all this electronic gadgetry and wizardry that has overwhelmed their daily lives? The old folks were once quite content to walk great distances to get where they were going. They enjoyed sharing pleasantries with the telephone operator. Conducting transactions with sales clerks who knew their stock and what it was that they were doing they took for granted.
Seniors treated their elders with respect. They shared pleasantries with passersby and greeted one another in passing. They held open doors for ladies. And as Boy Scouts they performed “Good deeds.” This was their life. This is what they took for granted in life.
Granted, old folks often seem to be underfoot. They don’t always hear too well; or grasp the complexities of modern day life too quickly. You often have to repeat things when you’re talking to them, or put up with their slowness at grasping various tasks.
But when you look at old timers and shake your head; remember one thing: You’re looking in a mirror. Be courteous to them; they’re you.
The Foot Man Speaks
More than two and a half centuries ago the philosopher Socrates observed that: “When our feet hurt, we hurt all over.” While that may not have been a profound observation, it must have influenced the course of Dr. Ace Anglin, a Podiatrist with whom this writer has enjoyed a long acquaintance, and a person whose expertise goes unquestioned.
Dr. Anglin's presence was first made known in 1998, when he came on board at the Lister Hill Health Center as its first podiatrist. He has continued to serve patients in the area, having moved on into private practice a few years later, at his present location on Mulberry Street.
During this period he also found time to write an excellent book, Saving the Diabetic Foot, which is particularly significant since Alabama has the highest rate of diabetes in the nation.
Dr. Anglin says he was “motivated to write this book because I have seen too many amputations” resulting from diabetes, and through his book he hopes to educate people with diabetes, especially those suffering from nerve damage and other consequences which end in amputation.
Diabetes, he notes, is the leading cause of amputation, and for many an early death as a result.
After an all too long absence, your writer has returned to Dr. Anglin's care at his new clinic, and a renewal of a long and cordial friendship.
As a diabetic who suffers from the painful effects of Neuropathy, your writer appreciates the service Dr. Anglin is able to provide. His presence is an asset to the community, a fact emphasized by a local physician, another excellent physician who your writer cherishes as a friend, Dr. Oluyinka S. Adediji, who says the book “takes the mystery” out of getting one's feet examined, and saving sufferers from the prospect of amputation.
Reading his book, says Dr. Anglin, could well save diabetics with foot problems from the eventuality of undergoing an amputation caused by not taking care of his or her feet.
After once reading this book in an editorial environment, it will now be a pleasure to read it for the knowledge it will provide one who suffers from diabetic foot pain.
Remembering Bill Mauldin
If you were to mention the names “Willie and Joe” to the average American under the age of 70 you'd probably draw a blank.
But bring up thse names in the “old folks home” and you'll get a knowing smile of recognition; for these names bring back fond memories of an era the likes of which this country is not likely to see again. Granted, this was a time of great national upheaval, a time when many Americans held a positive, but wary view of their future; a time which was best described in Bill Mauldin wartime cartoons and by Tom Brokaw, in his 1998 book: The Greatest Generation.
This was a time in which the characters “Willie and Joe'' were brought to America's attention by Mauldin, the cartoonist of World War II fame, who passed away a dozen years ago this month.
As an Army sergeant serving during World War II, Mauldin created these fictitious American Infantry characters and, with his artistic humor, portrayed their trials and tribulations as they slogged through the mud, shivered in cold foxholes, and struggling to defend their nation while enduring the wrath of drill sergeants, the incompetence of “90-day wonders,” and the arrogance of self-important generals.
The indignities of life as an Army enlisted man were caricatured by Mauldin in the popular daily military tabloid Stars and Stripes, much to the disfavor of many generals who found his accurate but disrespectful portrayals, less than amusing.
But while the brass often tried to censor Mauldin's cartoons, the average GI eagerly awaited each days' issue of the newspaper to learn how Mauldin had portrayed his existence; for he was usually right on target.
Today, most World War II soldiers still fondly remember many of these images; for they accurately struck home; and the Pulitzer Prize committee seemed to agree, for they awarded Mauldin a couple of their coveted prizes.
A few of his memorable cartoons remain in this writer's memory, one of which was that of Willie and Joe marching down Fifth Avenue in a victory parade, with crowds cheering and bands playing; Willie turns to Joe and remarks: “Enjoy it while you can. Tomorrow we'll be just another drain on the taxpayer.”
Another of his memorable cartoons was that of a World War II general standing at the edge of a precipice in some wartime European country, enjoying the evening sunset, and turning to his aide and observing: “Remarkable view. Is there one for the enlisted men?”
Another shows a native of a European village sadly viewing his bombed out home, his orchard decimated by bomb fragments. As they march through his village Willie turns to Joe and remarks: “What's he so unhappy about? His house is air conditioned, his orchard has been pruned and his field's been plowed.”
Like so many chroniclers of the events of time, both Brokaw and Mauldin accurately and honestly portrayed an era which many of us fondly remember, and one we'll likely never see again. And those of us who have perused the chronicles of history are sadly aware that history has an uncanny way of repeating itself. Witness Athens, Rome, Paris, the United Kingdom, Hitler's Third Reich, and the list goes on.
America reached its pinnacle during the Reagan years, then began to slide to the point that it's fast becoming another impoverished third-world nation, struggling in vain to get by each day. And most of us who are living out our Golden Years sadly witness Willie's post World War II prediction coming to fruition: We've become just another drain on the taxpayers.