This might be a strange title for a post….I have a confession to make, I love old people. Now perhaps that’s not a politically correct way to say it, but I must confess, I love spending time with retirees. I was extremely close to my grandmother, Anna Margret, and since her death in 2006, I have greatly missed her love, support, guidance and wisdom. It’s amazing how much wisdom and how many stories folks pick up by the time they’re 70 or 80. In addition, retirees often have a different perspective on life and a keen sense of what really matters.
When in college you’re largely surrounded by other college students who may be at the most three or four years older than you. It’s easy to spend an entire week on campus attending class, but interacting largely just with other students. Over the last couple months I have realized that there are many opportunities to get to know some fantastic new folks who have stories and wisdom galore to share. And best of all, those same folks are just as interested in hearing my stories and getting to know me!
Who am I talking about? Why all of the retirees (or grandmas and grandpas as I like to call them) who can be seen on campus. On Wednesdays at noon a large group of folks emerge from Krehbiel Auditorium where they have been attending the weekly Life Enrichment seminars on a variety of topics relating to health, history, current events and Bethel College. It’s great to sit with these folks at lunch and get to know each other. These friendly folks are always ready to share a smile. Other opportunities come in the form of the dinners hosted by couples/families at nearby Bethel College Mennonite Church. Twice yearly they invite students to sign up in groups and are assigned a particular household. Let me tell you, those meals are among the best meals I eat in Newton all year. A home-cooked meal around a family’s dinner table, shared with friends is a treasure indeed!
Other opportunities to meet new friends in the community include the crew of gentlemen (these not quite as old as those mentioned above) who descend on campus to set up the various tents and booths for Fall Fest at the beginning of October. Also, my ramblings wouldn’t be complete unless I mentioned the President’s Circle. The President’s Circle is a group of donors who give much to the college, and do a lot to keep the college going. I had the privilege of serving this group at a dessert reception on Fall Fest weekend. Many of these individuals attended Bethel College some years ago and it was so much fun to hear about the days when the cafeteria was in the basement of Memorial Hall and suppers were served family-style. On Sundays they even had to dress up for dinner. I heard stories of a librarian who once told a female student who was wearing slacks that she needed to put on a dress in order to study in the library. My have the times changed!! Today you’ll see everything from skirts to pajama pants in the library. I wonder what that librarian would say today. All in all I’m thankful that in this campus community I have the opportunity to meet a variety of new and interesting people, but especially the new grandmas and grandpas who share their stories, lives, and their wisdom with me.