Before he developed fear, my son enjoyed visiting his great aunt in the nursing home. At age four, he was a magnet for the attention of the residents who were mostly very old, infirm people. The residents would see him and smile. Those in wheelchairs would lean toward him, their faces still looking down upon him, and they would say, in their dry voices, friendly greetings and compliments. My son soaked in the attention, and as he left the nursing home, he once walked through an aisle of people seated people, most in wheelchairs, and waved to everyone and smiled, as if he were in the center of a parade. I was charmed.
When he grew older, my son no longer wanted to visit his great aunt or see the aged people. He felt uncomfortable among them – seeing how decrepit and lonely they were. I understood his feelings, but I wished he could have held on to the insight of the fearless boy who could easily connect with anyone who projected kindness, no matter the age and no matter the health.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery