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5 Evergreen Truths to Mindfully Becoming an Elder

By Fran Braga Meininger October 17, 2022 Mindset

Many people dislike the word elder. I never had a reaction to it because I never really thought of myself in those terms. But a recent spontaneous and heart-warming exchange made me realize I unintentionally assumed the role for at least one young person.

I was seated next to him, this man in his late 20s, whom I’ve known his entire life. He’s part of my extended family, and he spent considerable time at my home growing up.

As we settled in at a long table for a family celebration, he placed his napkin on his lap, then turned to me and said:

“You know, Fran, I was thinking the other night, as I spread my napkin while out on a dinner date, that my parents never made me do that growing up. It wasn’t important in our house. But spending time at your table I watched you and learned some very important etiquette. Thank you for that.”

I was so touched, I teared up a little. I never intentionally taught him anything, I was just doing what I do. He apparently was watching, and what he learned must have made an impression and served him well. That pleases me.

I’ve thought about that conversation many times since and have come to understand that being an elder is an honor. It offers the opportunity to impart knowledge, to encourage and offer help to those who are eager to learn. We can help in so many subtle but impactful ways – if we are present, patient, and willing.

After some serious introspection, I’ve decided there are a few key elements to being a good elder that I intend to follow from now on to ensure I am the best elder I can be.

Always Be Kind

I will share what I know in a considerate and thoughtful way; teaching without ever criticizing.

Show, Don’t Tell

I will be an example, always remembering that young people may be watching and learning by how I behave.

Offer Support When It Matters

Being young and inexperienced is challenging; mistakes happen. My gentle hand is strong enough to guide someone back onto the right path.

Listen to Understand

I will suspend judgement and do my best to see the situation from their perspective.

It’s Their Journey – Not Mine

There will be times when I can foresee the hardship heading their way and warning them is appropriate, but I will remember it’s their life to live as they choose.

I feel some obligation, in return for the fruitful and fulfilling life I’ve lived, to offer what I can to those who may benefit from my experiences.

Aging is inevitable – but aging with purpose makes it worthwhile. So, elder is a title I gratefully and mindfully accept. It’s all part of this new era in an ever evolving life.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

When was the last time you felt you made a difference in a young person’s life? Did you count it as an accomplishment? What truths about being an elder can you share? Please use the comment box below.

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Sarah Hendricks

The phrase “it’s their journey not mine” is something at the fore front of my mind these days. My darling granddaughter has just filed for divorce from her abusive husband of 18 months. She is an intelligent, beautiful, wonderful young woman who is having a difficult time dealing with getting divorced. She so hoped they could work things out, but there came a time when she realized they couldn’t, so she left and filed for divorce. She talks to me a lot and I often bite my tongue reminding myself it’s her journey and she has to decide how to travel through her own life. I am becoming a very good listener, a good backboard to bounce thoughts off, and a caring person who encourages her future plans without adding my advice. She even mentioned the other day how she appreciates that I just let her talk and listen attentively without giving advice like “everybody else” does. I keep reminding myself that she may be my “monkey”, but the circus is hers. Thanks for the article.

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your experience. She is fortunate to have you in her life, supporting her in such a loving and generous way. Sending you both all the best.


Beautifully phrased. This is much my philosophy now and I enjoyed seeing it put into such a thoughtful post- full of grace!

Fran Braga Meininger

Thank you for your kind words, Rebecca, and for reading my work.


Thank you for this Fran.The wisdom we have acquired by living to our 50s and 60s is what I call TwiftiesWisdom, and goes along with another concept that can be beneficial to all, and that is Twifties Sharing What Works. Why do we each have to solve the same problems, when the information and answers are out there already? Let’s share!
It is on Instagram #TwiftiesSharingWhatWorks .
Lauren Teton
Visionary for birth year 1956 and surrounding years

Fran Braga Meininger

Thanks for commenting, Lauren. I’ll check out your IG!

Mary Lou Harris

Wat is the quote? Something like “imitation is the highest form of flattery” – no exactly the same but you clearly have had an impact.

Thank you, Mary Lou.

The Author

Fran Braga Meininger writes personal narratives about the years beyond youth, a time in a woman’s life that can be vibrant, fulfilling, and wonderful, despite – or perhaps because of – all that comes with age. She lives in northern California where she hikes, bikes and lives life in big bites. You can visit her website at

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