On Tuesday night I went to see a brilliant muscial called Love - the musical at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith. It was the story of 'old people' in a residential home, with a central theme of relationships and love. I have written before about my early experiences of befriending the most gorgeous woman in her seventies for the last eight years of her life when I was 11 - 18. I spent many blissful hours learning through listening as she talked of tales of love lost and gained and the devastation and determination when her husband died, and the tragedy and joy of watching their children learn the lessons of love and relationships.
I was acutely reminded of Edith throughout this musical and i was reinforced in my belief that young people could learn so much from older people, and older people who often give young people a hard press could learn much from them - i.e. that the feelings of youth have not changed that much despite the fact that technology and circumstance has.
Through some peculiar twist the musical opened my eyes to what I have seen all around me today - I have been visiting a very close family friend in a hospice. Sat all around us are tales of love, hope, survival, dignity and indignity- lovers holding hands amongst wires, drips and barley orange drinks, one reading the paper whilst the ill person sleeps for a while, conversations sometimes trivial and sometimes intense.
When I have asked before how do you teach about love, trust and loyalty, it seems to me that we look to those who have experienced it for decades. Older people may well be the best teachers, and those of us involved in promoting positive relationships could helpfully think about how to utilise the rich resource they offer in communities.