11 Sep

Respect the Elderly


Upon visiting my father’s selected grave for his future burial, I couldn’t help but also pay a visit to my wife’s grandfather, Rene Bodart.

I was inspired to look for his grave, maybe because I’ve met him a few times or had the chance to hear some of his stories. He was one of Belgium’s war heroes. You can find his name in Breendonk, engraved on the wall of the concentration camp built for the prisoners of World War II.

I just wanted to know where his resting place was and whether it was properly looked after. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed when I saw it. He was buried amongst other soldiers, some of them highly decorated as well, but they more or less had nothing other than a tomb stone. Anyone could easily step on the lawn where they lay.

The other thing that amazed me was that their spouse was not allowed to be buried with them.

So here’s a war hero, someone who has paid his dues and done so much for his country, who has spent four years as a prisoner of war, yet he has been laid among everyone else and probably treated with nothing else but a bit of ill-maintained grass above his coffin.

I think that we owe the elderly a lot more respect. I must say that unless we pay more attention to how we respect the elderly, our future generations aren’t going to understand or learn it.

One only needs to look at the way our pensioners are being punished every time budget cuts need to be made. These people have already paid their dues to society throughout their working life. We can’t be attacking them now that they are in the twilight of their life, probably no longer earning much of an income and therefore not creating active dollars, but relying on passive dollars in order to make ends meet.

Visiting the two graves, another valuable realisation hit me. We spend the first part of our life learning to love and the second part of it losing what we’ve come to love.

I’m sure that there’s a deeper and more meaningful concept about existence, but the lesson here is not a sad one. It just forces me to make sure that I spend less time learning how to love and more time enjoying the people who hold a special place in my heart. This way, the regret we feel when we lose the people we love is only replaced by the good memories we have shared with them.


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