I come from a family of teachers, and as a result, we grew up in an environment that encouraged all of us to become lifelong learners. My parents have been incredible role models for me and my siblings throughout our lives.
As time has marched on and they have moved into their 80s, my parents’ personal growth and learning has prospered. My father just published his second book – annotating a diary of a Civil War soldier – and he is now working on his third book. On top of that, he just delivered a PowerPoint presentation to more than 150 people in their life care community! (Yes – he knows how to use PowerPoint.) He also reads The New York Times cover to cover every day! My mother is a voracious reader and a day doesn’t go by without her completing a crossword puzzle. She has been an active and engaged member of a book club that has been meeting for more than 20 years. The club consists of women in their 70s, 80s and 90s; they read a book orally, discussing it for hours. It’s a great approach – no need for “homework” or assignments to read several chapters before the next meeting. They just enjoy discovering the book and its content as the story unfolds. My mother truly enjoys and values the company of these extraordinary women, and their love of reading and learning knits the group together.
So, with such lifelong learners as parents what have I and my siblings learned from them?
- Whenever I have spare time, my nose is in a book. I read mostly fiction and am always looking for the next best book to read. My daughter has followed my lead. My mother, my daughter and I exchange our favorite books and we are appreciative of the fact that we are sharing books across three generations.
- One of my brothers, Pete, was recently promoted to the COO of his company. He is creeping closer to 60 and has been rewarded for his incredible work. Pete is energized by his new role; he is traveling globally and ensuring operations are efficient and that they’re attracting and retaining the best talent to support the business. He is learning a great deal and loving every minute of it.
- As a family of five, there certainly is a diversity of opinions and thoughts – not only across the five of us, but also generationally with our nieces and nephews. The rare times we are together, we truly enjoy each other’s company, having robust discussions while respecting everyone’s opinions.
My parents have given my siblings and me so many gifts over our lifetime; beyond their love, their focus on education, learning and stretching ourselves has to be one of the greatest gifts we have received. It is now our turn to pass their wisdom on to the next generation and it’s a work in progress. I only hope we can continue these traditions so that our children and grandchildren will also be lifelong learners.