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Aging Matters: Lessons in sharing can be paid forward

  • Published Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, at 10:09 p.m.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Wait. What better way to teach a kid than by example? A friend shared this with me, and there’s a great lesson here. Not just for the kid, but for all of us of any age.

The scene: a barbershop full of men, several with their 8- to 10-year-old sons waiting to get them into the barber’s chair. The main character: my friend, a freshly groomed grayhair using a walker. As the curtain opens, he fumbles for his billfold. The cashier motions to one of the fathers and his shaggy-haired boy, and says, “That man has already paid for your haircut.”

Although perplexed, my friend thanked the generous young man, who explained, “I’m trying to set an example for my son.”

My friend had already written his check. He handed it to the cashier. “I’d like to pay for the next veteran who comes in.”

She agreed, saying, “I’ll be glad to. I’ll start asking till I find a veteran.”

He sat back down and waited for his ride to take him home. Pretty soon, a new cashier handed my friend a gift card. “Use this next time you come in. He said he, too, was setting an example for his son,” and she pointed out another waiting father.

We old folks often cluck our tongues and wonder what the world is coming to. With fathers like that, we should be encouraged.

Age offers a few breaks. Many places have senior discounts. If we look old enough, they don’t even ask. If we’re barely past the age they’ve set – especially if we look even younger, as many do – we may have to take the initiative. (I don’t have that problem.)

Let’s every one of us take a lesson from those young fathers. We may lack the cash to share, but everybody can set a good example. Not by empty words, but by living full, positive lives. Accepting, not judgmental. Patient, cheerful, content with our lot.

Unfortunately, bad rubs off. But so does a sharing attitude.

Phyllis Spade, 87, has made Sedgwick Plaza her home for the past six years. She welcomes your comments at phylace@yahoo.com.

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