Finally, we concluded class with reading discussions. The first reading concerned a woman who grew up without parents and married in her teenage years. Despite all of her challenges and hardships, she managed to create a life for herself. John presented this reading and asked us if we knew of any people who had experienced such monumental loss as losing their parents as a child. Few people could answer this question.
After this story, we were read a story about elders taking serving as leaders in their communities, and the fight to preserve land that elders tended to their entire lives from the threat of gentrification, urban sprawl, and industry. The images the story evoked of elders protecting a place they hold, which holds symbolic and sentimental meaning to them touched me. I can only imagine that after so many years on Earth, seeing so many things change, there comes a point where people want to keep something old alive. It’s simply a matter of deciding what that final straw is. Elders truly are a way to glimpse into the past, and the experiences they have to tell are priceless. Once elders pass away, only the remnants of those times, such as the land they own, are all that remains to tell the story. It is important that we preserve them, and that is the primary motivation of my HAP project with Jackie: Preserving the stories of elders for years to come and many future generations to enjoy and learn from, and keeping their voice alive long after they have gone.