Poet’s Corner: The Immeasurable Gift of Seniors to Our Community

When I first came to Orange I was struck at the vibrant life of seniors and the amount of activities and events that are so generously offered to them. And deservedly so. It displays a town vested in its inhabitants– caring hearts and thoughtful planning. It is also a wise priority, for as much as is given so much more is received. The seniors are a wellspring of living well before our eyes who teach us many things about life, past and present. They are mirrors to us of what was and what will be. And if we really listen to them…then maybe, we’ll get to be there one day too.

They live full lives…in the past vaults of sweet memories, in the present swirls of new horizons awaiting them. With the exuberance of children at large, they run in worlds of grand discovery, always thirsting for a newness that each day may bring, wearing the years proudly upon their faces of times good and not so good, of reels that run like a movie of untold memories, diaries of great wealth showing all they have seen and have done so far. In the due respect of honor and place given them, they go to the head of the line – acknowledged for everything they have been through in life…and for still being here with us.

They seek to dwell in the precious marrow of life one day at a time in this grand adventure, grabbing hold of the true treasures laid before them, ever venturing out, no holds barred, to blend softly in the flowing grace of the hand that envelops and guards their very soul. They give and lose themselves so freely in whirlwinds of activity – feasts of culinary delights, lobsters, and ice cream socials; voyages to the landscapes of Britain and ship rides to the other side of the horizon; hearing mesmerizing operatic tenors, sharing the stage plays on Broadway, taking a trip back to the 50’s, exercising their bodies to vast arrays of music, coming to places of rest in states of yoga, learning something new at a lunch, clothing foster children far away, learning of health and safety measures that adds years to a life, buying trinkets from the past from vendors’ wares that perchance bring back mirrors of themselves long ago.

They shine brightly before us… beacons of wisdom that hold in themselves untold tales of life themes, experiences that run the gamut of joys and sorrows, wins and losses, successes and failures, loves found and loves lost, places traveled and family home traditions, lasting counsels of true friends whose compatibility has been a lamplight unto them. They are sages through years of experience, yet still young in matters of the heart. Ever reaching ahead, they strive sometimes through the hardest of times, unwavering, with pioneer determination to have a good time. They come to be well known to their peers – fellow sojourners – who are always beside them, sharing their confidentialities, their fears, hopes, dreams, the latest news about old friends…

They are the real treasure houses of all that life can be.

They smile upon the children as extensions of themselves long ago, and in quiet times return to the wonderlands of imagination, voyages back to playgrounds of innocence when life was a daily adventure of exploration- the sweet promises of their own special creation. In seeking the comfort of their true friends there is a purity of lifetime ties, shelters of safe harbors that bond well the shared experiences with tender remembrances…memories that now feed new generations through the gift of their very presence.

And in doing so, they call to us to behold the good way…seizing the day before them, passing on a smile, offering a tender word, sharing gems of wisdom, speaking gifts of hope to others, encouraging a positive attitude… and giving thanks for another day.

John Ulatowski has published several books of photographic images.