This is the second story of hidden gems discovered in the everyday.
In my work with students in local middle school mentoring clubs, I get the opportunity to hear other people’s stories. One of my favorite activities with students is our field trip to local senior housing facilities. We do this at the end of the year after the students have learned to interview us and eachother. They have fine-tuned their skills and are ready to appreciate the privilege of hearing another’s story. We have a set of questions, the Legacy Interview, we ask that help prompt people to recall and share the values and highlights of their life’s story. It is fun to see the process of sharing between generations. Initially when we arrive both the seniors and students are reserved and quiet. Often the seniors tell me that they don’t have anything interesting to share. As the interview goes on each pairing becomes more vibrant. The sharing is life breathing.
I love that I get to sit in on these interviews and help facilitate the sharing. I learn so much from others and it blesses my heart. There are many important moments in those gatherings. One of the seniors that especially touched my heart was Ruth. She was nearing 100 years young and would be celebrating her milestone birthday soon. As a student and I interviewed her, we had to initially repeat our questions and nudge her a little bit to share more. What she did share was very interesting and had definite touchpoints of faith and perseverance.
There was another resident at the same table, and he kept adding to Ruth’s answers. He seemed to have great respect for Ruth and didn’t want us to miss a thing! When we got to the question about advice she would give to someone in middle school she lit up. First, she would tell them about Jesus! Then her table buddy blurted out- “Tell them about your book, Ruth!” She was initially hesitant and a little annoyed with his interruption but then explained what he was referring to. Ruth told us that she had written poems for her whole life. They were all sitting in a top drawer of her dresser and never shared. She never had the confidence to share them with anyone. One day they were discovered, and she was encouraged to submit them to be published. She was reluctant but then figured, “Why not, I am 80 something years old. What have I got to lose?” She said her submission was chosen to be published! She beamed as she shared this experience. Ruth said that actually another piece of advice she would give to someone in middle school would be not to wait until you are in your 80s to do that thing that brings you joy! Share your gifts, talents, etc. with others. Ruth was delightful. She lit up as she spoke and even more so as she realized that her words had value and could inspire courage in this young girl.
I asked Ruth’s permission to take her photograph that day. The photograph I took of Ruth floats around on my phone, and I have come across it periodically over the last couple of years. Doing this series of posts brought Ruth to mind again and the importance of our stories in encouraging those who come after us. The beauty of the story. The legacy we leave behind. When I was reflecting upon Ruth’s story I looked up Ruth and discovered that she had hit her big birthday of 100 years. Sadly she is no longer with us here on earth, but her stories and touchpoints live on.
What is the thing you need a little courage to do? What is the passion in your heart that needs to be shared with the world? Let’s heed Ruth’s advice to love Jesus and do the things we were created to do before we are in our 80s!
If you or a loved one is a senior and would be willing to be interviewed using our Legacy Interview, let me know. I would love to help you capture your story. It won’t be published without your consent and it will be for your own use.