Finding Precious Treasure

You know the excitement you have when you first enter a museum? You don’t really know what you’re about to experience, you just know it will be special. That’s how I feel when I go into one of our communities. Our residents are so full of achievement and history. I wish everyone knew this, knew of the precious treasures that live within the walls of these senior care communities.

My experience was reinforced this past week as I toured five Northern California communities. My last stop being Aegis of Napa.

I was introduced to a woman named Donna. The General Manager said she wanted me to sign a copy of my book, My Mother My Son, for her. As I knelt down beside Donna was who sitting in a lobby chair I introduced myself. I immediately noticed Donna’s smile and cheery disposition. The GM asked Donna to tell me where she went to school? ” I am a 1937 graduate of Berkley,” she said. Wow was the only thing I could mutter. Then my math skills took over, “98,” I said softy. “Yes, I am 98 years old,” she replied. And this woman wants to read my book, I thought.

The General Manager then asked her to tell me where she worked. “Well, I invented Cheerios. In 1937 there were only Cornflakes and Shredded Wheat and I thought there should be at least one more cereal.” One more, I thought, we have a million now. Donna said there was a team of seven of them working on it and they came up with this new cereal and called it Cheery but she thought they should add an “O” in it so they called it Cheerios.”

“I can’t believe I am talking to the woman who invented the cereal I ate every day for ten years,” I said. “Yes, a lot of people say that,” she mused.

This is history, here was Donna Humble requesting to have me sign my book to her. I was the one who was in for a treat. She was a branding genius.

As I think about Donna, I wondered about the worst kind of discrimination, for me that of ageism. How many times do we walk by the elderly and judge them for the frailty, their grey hair, their bad skin or their lack of mobility. We discount the incredible contributions they have made to our world.

Next time you walk by an elderly person, just say thank you. You don’t even have to say why. They have made some contribution to our society that you are benefiting from.


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