Another form of Spirituality of An Elder, is through the library. There are other physical, dimensional or spiritual places, yet the library is special. I have noticed a real trend in people of all ages, Elders included, going to the library. I love seeing a petite lady with tight permed hair and a polyester suit enjoying a book or conversation at the library. (Their) faces light up as a smile takes over.
The library can be a cure for so many ills. In fact, my earliest memories of the library come from two sources, the school library and my father’s frequent trips to the local library. When we moved to the country, in 1977, my father made his place at the La Farge library. It was a tiny, quaint and aged building that had been filled with wonderment, curiosity, research, homework and astonishment for many years. I loved the old book smell and yellowed paper. As a youngster, I was not a huge reader. A handful of teachers did me the disservice of labeling me as a slow learner, challenged reader and dyslexic. The dyslexic part was true. The fact that I was slow was accurate yet there may have been a better way to work with a child like myself not to mention I endured an across state move. Anyhow, I digress. I used to go to the town library with my dad. He loved to read. The books he used to read were hard cover, thousand page, serious-minded books. His love for books was infectious. Fortunately, as an older teen I woke up and smelled the coffee thanks to my brother. When my father and I went to the library he usually had specific books ordered of a vast array of topics. My father was well read, articulate, and wise from his reading and life experience.
In addition, my first experiences of the library came from our classroom visits where our librarians name was Mrs. Steinmentz. She was so sweet and always went out of her way to help us. We could look up books or subjects under the Dewey Decimal System. I went through a phase of studying bird calls. I would get the book and cassette tapes and listen to them at the library. This is pivotal since most children of my generation or older have a pleasant and fuzzy good memory about libraries which leads me to Spirituality of An Elder Through Libraries. In fact, a lot of subjects, projects and class lessons were held in the library.
Elders visit the library for socialization. We’re all in the human family. It just so happens a lot of Elders have lost a great many of their friends and family through death. At the later stages in life who better, knows about loss or tragedy than an Elder. So, what better place to socialize, than a library? One gets to know about the staff members, the mommies and their kids visiting and other patrons. Some of them join the book clubs or share their latest reads among each other. One of them may even help you get a job. I have observed a few creating their own posies. They even have dedicated hours they come in, all a part of their new routine.
Socialization comes in many forms and is created in different ways. The first type of socialization I think about is friendship. I have seen many friendships born at the library. How do they come about? A smile? A conversation and genuine interest in one another. Another type of socialization can be acquaintance. This may be a person you engage in light conversation at the library and that is as far as it goes. Elders are no different in fact are more equipped to for relationships. It helps fill an empty spot in one’s heart and life.
Going to the library can fill a void of loneliness. I can’t help but think of the song, “Only The Lonely” by Roy Orbison. There was another famous song about loneliness by the Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby.” So, let us not sit in our empty apartments or big houses and mingle with other humans. Elders are just as prone to loneliness as anyone. Sometimes they are more likely to feel loneliness. How hard it must be to lose your profession, the proper use of your body, people you love, pets and at times mental faculties. Trips to the library allow a soul to feel love, hear a “Good Morning” or see the smile of a young child, which are all healers of loneliness. A person may know he or she is lonely or not aware. If a person is hungry or has a craving for apple pie they eat apple pie. If a person is lonely he or she must get out and mingle with others. Thank you libraries.
Now, I go back to routine. I, myself, waiver back and forth between routine and spontaneity. There are some tasks in which I love routine and some not so much. I believe this is a human trait of many people. Through the ten or more years working with Seniors in their homes, independent living centers, assisted living or nursing homes a routine is good. This is whether a person suffers from memory challenges or not. So often a resident’s eyes would light up when it was time for church or music festivities.
People who are retired or those higher on the numeric scale make a routine of going to the library. Sometimes a man comes in daily with his coffee to read the paper. This helps created his day. Some Elders are working on various projects. Projects on ancestry, family tree, military intelligence and more. I always get a chuckle when a retired teacher comes in. You can spot them a mile away. Some elders come to the library almost daily to utilize the Wi-Fi and play games on the computer or Facebook. After all, a routine is a habit. Habits that make us feel good are fun to have.
Seniors come to the library to keep their minds fresh and learn. I think that’s awesome. I cant’ help but think of the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” getting rusty and singing, “If I only had a brain.” If you don’t use it you lose it. Seniors have many tasks they utilize to keep their brains fresh. Some of them read books, watch or read crime stories, play games, do word puzzles or enjoy hobbies like sewing, knitting, cooking and more. It is my opinion, that the Senior Activities held in libraries, are great for these things, including the book club.