The photo of my son and mother yesterday between consecutive football matches at Girton Cambridge.
My mother had come up from Shaftesbury in Dorset for the day, my son played 3 games in the day. When all was finished we went to the Isaac Newton and watched the second half of the rugby.
I am so proud to be the son of my parents and I’m equally proud to have a son who respects his grandparents as Olly does.
I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about how we can make older people financially self-sufficient but not enough time helping the elderly people I know, to feel emotionally valued.
I am very proud that – at least for a day – Olly and I were able to do that!
When in India I saw billboards demanding we respect our elders as the “parents of our nation”. How different from some of the comments I have read in Britain where there seems to be growing contention between young and old over the possession of material wealth and opportunity.
Nothing could be more short-sighted than this jealousy. For the generation my mother comes from has suffered infinitely more deprivation than my and previous generations can conceive. One of my mother’s earliest memories is of watching boats on the convoy of evacuees being sunk by a German U-boat. Imagine as a primary school child, having to deal with the fear that those silent assassins were amongst you, gliding with deathly torpedoes beneath your boat.
That may be overly dramatic, at the other end of the spectrum was rationing, which my mother and father grew up with. We may remember the swinging sixties but that was for the privileged few, for the most part the sixties and seventies were tough years to bring up a family.
The years of prosperity that retired people are enjoying today are far from universal. Over the Christmas period I spent time with people who- though pensioners – were homeless. They had no emotional support other than what they could gather from charities such as Crisis.
Respect and compassion for those who have lived through so much are their’s by right. We should not be begrudging our elderly the right to a home, or to warmth. Nor should we be shunning their company. The work being done by Ros Altmann and others on ensuring dignity for this generation when they are unable to live independently is of great importance.
Work done by academics such as Dr Deborah Price in Manchester, the work of Bristol University in understanding the needs of older people in Britain is of immense value. It is a mark of the civility of our country that we do invest our time, love and compassion in the interests of those who are older and more dependent than us.
But it is in the individual family units than we can do most. My mother was in Cambridge to celebrate the 90th birthday of her older sister (along with 40 others). Well done the Andersons for making this happen and showing the Tappers good example!
But most important of all well done Olly, the respect you show your grandparents on both sides of your family is an honour to your parents as well as to you – I feel very proud to be your Dad!