Make your presence known during the holidays

Challenges of Living to Age 100


Presence is a gift — a present. Be there! Participate! As we grow older, we make excuses for being absent. Accept the invitation. RSVP! Be visible; be involved; show up!

During the holiday period, there are special events with family, friends and neighbors. There are church services, pageants, musical presentations, tree lightings and festivities of all types. Our presence builds memories for ourselves and others.

As the years move on, we need to be there for life cycle events. From beginning to the end — births, baptisms, confirmations, the mitzvahs, school programs, graduations, marriages, neighborhood potlucks, club outings and association meeting attendance demonstrates presence.

Teenagers can be a challenge for seniors. Their music, connectivity by texting, attire, hobbies and special interests can expand our world. Be there on their media. Ask questions and save your comments and opinions until you digest what they share. Remember when you were a teen?

Second marriages call for presence regardless of your feelings, religious beliefs or loyalties. Stepchildren and step grandchildren should not pose a challenge. Accept them with love. When our son married for the second time, his two daughters and his second wife’s two daughters “married” each other as sisters. Our extended family in Wisconsin has added many blessings. We continue to be involved in most of their events.

On the not-so-pleasant side is your presence in hospital visits, shut-in visits, hospice contacts and other life-ending events. And, yes … the funerals.

People comment about wakes and funerals: “I won’t know what to say.” No words are required. Your support is shown with a hug, a hand held or a tear in your eye. You show that the life mattered. Your presence is a great gift.

Friendship matters. Neighbors matter. A greeting goes so far. You recognize their presence. Be remembered as the pleasant lady or man down the street instead of the grumpy old people at the end of the block. You might not be able to be a crossing guard near the school, but watching the children walk by after school is a valued presence. Your smile, wave or greeting is a gift.

The famous Mr. Anonymous shares with us: “When you look back over life, you’re sure to have regrets. See that you regret the things you did, not the things you didn’t do. Err on the side of action.” 

Ed Baranowski is president of Topics Unlimited, a Melbourne-based education, seminar and consulting company. He can be reached at