Honouring Parents

Aggravated an old calf injury at football on Monday night, in the driving rain and the howling wind. We must have been mad to be out there at all, but with enough layers on and staying on the move it was quite comfortable, until about 15 mins from the end.

It was sore getting up this morning, and then it niggled away during the day, nothing major, just a constant nag, but enough to make me aware of what it takes to actually walk anywhere. So it was interesting when I went to the local shop to buy some stuff for the Board meeting today when in the narrow aisles I found myself locked in behind a very frail, elderly woman, shuffling along with just a couple of items in her hand.

I had time to look around the shelves. Some context, perhaps. This is an inner city area, one of the most deprived in the whole of the UK. This shop has replaced the smaller local shops as the big multiples have established themselves. Tescos is here, but not within the shuffle distance of the elderly roadblock in front of me. So this is where everything is done. There’s a post office, permanently queued with people on benefit. There is no fresh fruit for sale, None. Which says a lot about the local diet. And I don’t think I have ever joined a queue for the three checkouts without being held up by people buying either cigs or, more likely, lottery tickets.

Normally I’m in and out, but today, aware of my own minor disability I joined the slow moving crowd.

Then outside on the way back to the office, I was stuck behind another elderly woman, this time pushing her wheeled shopping trolley. I couldn’t pass her because the bus shelter was too close to the wall of the stores, and she weaved all over the place, so again I slowed to the pace of a fragile septuagenarian.

I like to think I’m fit and healthy. I can still acquit myself on the footie field. Can still churn out the miles on the bike. But this morning was a foretaste of what may be ahead. Not sure I liked it. It also made me aware of how impatient I get not just when I have to slow down, but how irritated I get with those who are ill, or frail.

I guess the discipline of honouring your parents is at least in part a discipline which teaches us generational compassion. Health-wise I am a million miles away from those who slowed me up on the Newtownards Road, but I wouldn’t want to be so isolated as they appear. Honouring parents, those who in years past cared for me as an irresponsible child, teaches me to be patient with those who are slower, more demanding of time and care than I think I am…at the moment.

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