By Sam Burnham
I know that I'm losing valuable resources every day. It's not oil or fresh water or even the conditioned air that slips out though my exterior doors. It's something much different than that. Middle age has brought me to the realization that this resource is fleeting.
I am reminded of a wedding shower my wife's grandmother threw for her. I spent that afternoon on her grandfather's porch. He and several of his life-long friends were there and we talked. They told stories of growing up in the neighborhood in Atlanta along 10th St near Hemphill. They talked about getting treats from the old drug store that sat at that intersection. They talked about playing pick up football with Lester Maddox. They gave me advice on life and marriage. But mostly we just chatted. It was one of the most memorable days of my life.
And now I'm the only man left from that porch sitting who is still around to talk about it. Every other man sitting on that porch that day has passed on. So has Grandpa, who taught me far more than he knew. I've stood graveside for so many coworkers, mentors, personal influences, friends.
The resource I'm losing...really, the resource we are losing,,,is old men.
This isn't a requiem for anyone in particular. It's really just a recent observation that as I grow closer to the day I'll be generally thought of as an old man, I find myself with fewer and fewer old men to learn from or ask for advice. There is just something in that wealth of life experience that can really make a difference in your life - and you can't get similar results from any number of Google searches. Have you ever met a Google search that can claim to have dated the sister of one of Georgia's most controversial governors? Ever met a Google search that has been doing the very thing you're asking about longer than you've been alive?
I remember when I was a young boy and my Uncle Sam (my great uncle, for whom I am named) tell us stories about the Civil War. These were stories his grandfather had told him about his own experience in that war. Google that.
These are the kind of experiences and stories that have shaped the relationship between Uriah Colquitt Meigs and his grandfather, Elijah in my fictional writing. They have made me the husband and father that I am. And it has helped me appreciate those older men who are still around me, even if it doesn't always seem that way. And it has made me thankful to have had the time with those who have passed on. It's also left me wondering if I am going to be nearly as equipped as they were to pass anything on to the younger men around me.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire