A friend in her mid-80’s was lamenting feeling like an appendage to her family. She longed for meaningful connection instead of brief check-in phone calls. Her childrens’ lives were so full she felt she’d fallen off their priority list.
Years ago I trained with a medicine woman who gave me a Native American practice for relating to the aged:
The elders are closer to the Great Mystery. When they are speaking, don’t comment, correct, or add anything. Just listen. At some point, a kernel of gold will come through that's just for you.
I did this practice with my mother during the year before she died. Once she talked for over an hour, I said nothing, just listened. The golden kernel came through while her mind was roaming — there was no interference, so she became an unknowing conduit of the great mystery. When it was time for me to go she was full of joy and said, “What a wonderful conversation we’ve had!”
For those who relate to this practice, it helps elders feel back on the priority list and more connected to family. And the listener cultivates deep listening and being present to the mystery.