Taken on a recent trip to Omaha Beach, NZ

Old people garden. They take care of their pot plants (a thing I struggle with), they sit and wait for birds to come to their bird feeders. They all have a lemon tree and when life gives them lemons, they give them away to their neighbours in small plastic bags. They bake raspberry slice and have excessive tea breaks, they make short-bread and dip it in warm cups of English Breakfast. They use the word ‘dear’ a lot, and they always double check that the gas heaters are turned off. They read the paper every morning in worn slippers and a dressing gown, accompanied by a bowl of the same cereal they’ve been eating since 1994.

I like old people. I enjoy their perspective, most of all. They are so relaxed with reality, yet so experienced with it. They know how it behaves better than any of us 25-yr-olds, and still, they continue unphased. They’ve become comfortable with the pace of life, they’ve learnt the dynamic range and tempo of the piece, and even someone like my Grandad, has learnt to play along. They’ve seen things die, they’ve felt the spectrum of pain, but they are more optimistic than most: they will not let any circumstance say ‘it won’t be ok’ because they’ve met it before and made it through.

I talk to old people while I’m waiting for the bus, at the end of a church service, or over a plate of mash at my Grandpa’s retirement home. They listen, and they seem so excited by the opportunities that we have. One lady almost dropped her purse when I told her I am planning to live overseas for five months, and recovered by peppering me with weather recommendations and how many layers I should take, looking me in the eye to say especially: “Make the most of everything.”

They make you forget about yourself for a while. They are detached from millenial worries, and it’s easy to catch on to their sweeping force of positivity and their firm forgetfulness to complain about even the worst things. Like, that they can’t properly taste their dinner, or that they might, you know, die soon. An old man sprung through the door at work last week, and I smiled and gave him a worn, “How are you today?” He leant harder into his walking cane, and beamed impossibly, answering me: “Better than I deserve!” I was mesmorized by the well of enthusiasm that came from someone who probably had a lot to lament. What you have is wonderful, and old people just seem grateful, you know?

They’re also deeply enthusiastic about all the potential us young folk have, and how handsome you look today. Just agree, non-wrinkled skin looks good on you, they will say. They’ll love sharing their stories, and unintentionally reminding you that you’re actually doing OK with your life. They don’t measure achievement the same way students do, because the egotistical phase of certificates and competition for the lengthiest CV has passed: they’re more into who are you, not what you do. (And which neighbour makes the best rhubarb crumble, I’m obviously going to learn this skill before I get old.)

Researchers, or smart people, say that experience makes you wise. This makes people with walkers the wisest tribe on the earth, and it’s been recognized for years, as empires and civilizations have turned to a counsel of elders for advice. I am convinced that my Grandpa knows everything, he even specializes in American politics, which (as of recent) has made conversation amusing for us both. His belief in hard work and the attitude of ‘everything will work out’ means that whenever I’ve had a bad day, I can trust his encouragement and vigorous assurance (received over a handful of nuts ‘n raisins, the only snack he’s had in his pantry since 1885).

My friends don’t know it, I might not know it, but my Grandpa knows it well. He knows the meaning of life. He knows the value of a hug, the importance of politeness, the quest of curiousity, the reward of perserverance, the bounty of compassion, the profit of stewardship, the honour of service, and the profit in generosity.

Do you like talking to old people?

Mads xx



  1. I completely agree! I've been doing some charity fundraising over the last two weeks and I love it when old people come up to me and tell me their stories and experiences, it's just so lovely and nice!
    Aleeha xXx

  2. At first, I must admit that I love this post,there is a lot of true in it and it encourages reflection. Talking with old people always bring me positive reactions and especially I like what you said that "They are so relaxed with reality"


  3. I love this post and I agree so much, the comment about the lemon tree melts my heart. such a lovely post! X

  4. I love this perspective! You're so right that it's nice to be reminded to just slow down and to make some memories!

    🍉 Pia

    1. Life is short! (Probably seems shorter when you're eighty.)

  5. okay sorry but I have to keep commenting but I feel this so hard! old people make you exited about things you would never think were exiting, it reminds me of a meme I saw the other day that said something along the lines of "The problem with this world is that no one snaps peas with Grandma anymore" and this blog post reminded me of it but this was very nice to read,


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