06/18/2014 09.17 EST
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?
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.