I was told by a friend the other day that my hair color was gorgeous. I was surprised by her response because the last time I looked in a mirror my hair was inundated with numerous gray strands. I’m not terribly fond of my premature graying, but my friend’s compliment made me feel better about it. My adorable Aunt Dot commented once on my lovely highlights. I chuckled and said, “If only these silver highlights were intentional.” These expressions of admiration prompted me to think about the topic of graying hair.
I see countless gray-haired individuals pass through the OME. Their stories are familiar. Some of them young like myself and, most of them older. The death invest summary might read, “Lives alone. Hasn’t seen a doc in several years. Has pain meds for unknown medical conditions. Last seen alive by granddaughter who delivered food the night before.” I often will read the obituary in the local paper to find out a little bit more about the deceased individual, but I’m still left with unanswered questions. I wonder what made that person tick. Who was the man before his hair became silver? What caused his silver highlights? Unfortunately, I don’t often get answers to those types of questions.
Is that what we’re reduced to after death? A couple of paragraphs in a death investigation narrative and a black and white photo above an obituary. Hopefully we have loving family who will cherish our life’s story and want to share it with others. Now that’s what I call, “Silver Highlights.” Wisdom that can be gleaned by sharing years of experience. Unfortunately, not everybody is survived by family and friends who can share life’s experiences. To you I would suggest that you share your thoughts while you are alive. You might start by keeping a journal or maintaining a blog. Now I’m not suggesting that every idea that comes out of a person is a gem, but the true loss would be for any person to be forgotten. Some people die alone and end up at the Medical Examiner‘s. They remain at the Medical Examiner’s Office for several months until the county attorney assumes responsibility as indigent and cremates their body.
Recently, my brother was assigned the task of writing his own eulogy for a class assignment. He turned to me for advice since I’m the family’s resident expert in death. As I considered his college writing assignment I pondered on what might be said of me upon my passing. Would I be remembered as a kind, wise, generous grandfather? Would I be survived by my loving, beautiful wife and adoring children? Will my children be married with children of their own? Will my family relay some of my infamous silver highlights? I’m not referring to senior moments here, that is something entirely different. Let me further define a silver highlight as a lesson taught from experience or wisdom shared by a mentor.
I’ll share an example of a silver highlight with you. Toward the end of his life, my wife’s paternal grandfather would tell me upon our visits, “I don’t know you, but I like you.” He suffered from dementia due to years of Parkinson’s, but he was sharp. On one particular visit he spoke a few words of Italian to me. Although he couldn’t immediately recall my name, his ailing mind connected with me in a brilliant way. He slyly grinned at me as he relayed kind words about his beautiful wife who sat patiently beside him. I understood him, you see, because I am Italian. I knew that he knew I was Italian. He was telling me in his own way that he remembered me.
I’ve always told my friends and family that I anticipate the day when I’m old and gray. It is my philosophy that when a person has survived long enough on this magnificent, rotating rock, ever hurling itself through the vastness of space, he or she has earned the right to do and say as they please without scorn or retribution. I was taught to respect and revere my elders. I believe we can learn valuable lessons from those who have tried and failed or tried and succeeded so many times before us. Although I am not as old, relatively speaking, nor nearly as wise as my elders I’ve decided to gracefully accept my premature gray hairs.
I’ve listed below some of my favorite silver highlights or words of wisdom that I’ve adopted over the years from friends and family. Most of the quotes are paraphrased to the best of my recollection. I cannot take credit for these sayings, however, they are what I’ve extracted from lessons learned. Unfortunately, I can’t give credit where credit is due because I cannot with certainty assign a quote to any one person. Although, special thanks goes out to my mentors: Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, Todd, Ed, Erik, Shannon, Bob, Doug, Margaret, Don, Dan, and so many more.
I hope you enjoy. Thank you for reading. The immortal words of Grandpa, “I don’t know who you are, but I like you.”
- “Always respect your elders.”
- “You can’t say you don’t like it until you’ve tried it.”
- “Life is what happens when you decide to make a plan.”
- “Don’t get discouraged, make the best of every situation.”
- “Don’t stress about work. Work is what you do to support those you love. You leave work to go home to the ones you love.”
- “Keys to success: See one, do one, teach one.”
- “If you set a goal, you are more likely to attain that goal.”
- “Every person needs three things to be happy: A friend, a hero, and something to occupy the time.”
- “If you think you should do something, then act.”
- “If you think you should not do something, then don’t.”
- “Our goal and our purpose is to do no harm.”
- “Don’t get entangled and lost in the how to’s, visualize the proposed end product and arrive.”
- “Work smart, not hard.”
- “Stand when a lady enters the room.”
- “Open the door for a lady.”
- “Forgive quickly.”
- “Forgive the person, not the crime.”
- “The key to happiness is forgiveness.”
- How Much Do You Know About Gray Hair? (bellasugar.com)
- Young and Gray? You Might Just Want to Stick With It (bellasugar.com)
- Why Does Hair Go Gray? (everydayhealth.com)
- Tip of the Day- Let Your Gray Go (jnormanpost.com)
- This Gray Hair Means Something, Story by Thom Kudla (silverbirchpress.wordpress.com)