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Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

Getting To Know You

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In the musical "Anna and the King of Siam" there is a cute song entitled, "Getting to Know You." The song mentions wanting to know what each other like and dislike and shows that the people need to talk to really get acquainted. I like the song and I like the ideas in it.

I have been privileged to know a lot of people in Vernon County through my work with Community Outreach and the Neighbors Center. I worked with some wonderful people both as clients and employees. But I realize that even in those close associations I really didn't know all I would like to know about some of them.

When I do interviews to write articles for the Senior Page I often think I do not really have to talk to the person because I already know them so well. But after just a few seconds in the interview I learn some fact that I hadn't known before. I have had readers tell me they appreciated me writing about a certain person because they learned so much more about them than they had known before. I wonder if there is any end to what we could learn about someone when we keep talking together.

Have you ever been visiting with an adult sibling and been very surprised to hear them say something about one of your parents that you hadn't know anything about? Being the youngest in the family I realize that the parents I knew were quite different from the ones my oldest siblings grew up with. The location, age, and income were quite different for the younger ones than for the older ones. I think we could write eight different biographies of our parents and they would all be true.

Recently, in a club meeting, our hostess had us play a get acquainted game. This was with a group of women who had known each other for years and who live in the same community. The game had printed questions on cards that the club members were asked to answer. These varied from telling about the grocery store where you shopped as a child to sharing memories of your first date. Amid the laughter and fond memories that the answers brought forth, was the realization that we were seeing our mature friends in a different light than we had before. Maybe we had known one person when we were younger, but hadn't really gotten to known her very well.

We all left the meeting feeling like we had received a gift. We now had a deeper friendship and understanding of each other than we had before.

At our family reunions we have played different types of get-acquainted games. This seems odd since we are all related. But a child of ten doesn't really know (and probably doesn't care to know) much about a great, great uncle or aunt. But once they do discover some interesting facts about the older person they are eager to learn even more.

The same is true for the older person knowing the youngsters at the reunion. We can talk about someone having her mother's eyes, or her father's height, but we don't really know what the girl is like. Does she like to read or would she rather ride horses? Does she remember the time she visited your house with her parents, or was she too young to remember how she liked our cat?

Older people are sometimes seen only as "older people" without us taking time to recognize all they have done in their lifetimes. Let's all get better acquainted so we'll know these things.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus