I’ve been noticing the increasing amount of plywood protecting windows of shops that have closed. A few years back, I joked with a friend as we were driving through a depressed area of Chicago, that we should have ‘invested’ in the stock of whoever makes plywood. It’s not a joking matter anymore.
2010’s major retail chains closing were numbered at 5,000. Reasons cited were underperforming, an economic liability, and expendable or irrelevant because they produce non-essential products.. The list of retail closings is now an on-going list.
It’s no different in our city of 80,000 –Waldenbooks, Circuit City, Liz Claiborne Outlet, Big Lots, Hallmark and Linens and Things, Boston Market, and Blockbusters are a few that immediately come to mind. Every time we go to a mall (which admittedly with our no-credit card plan is far from last year’s frequency) there are more empty locations.
When a fellow in the grocery line offered his place to me, saying, “Go ahead, I’m retired and have nothing to do,” and then I learned about the cottage in Burlington for homeless veterans (link below), I wondered, are some of our seniors feeling they have been written-off, shuttered with unyielding plywood that judges them as underperforming, an economic liability, expendable, invisible or irrelevant?
As I get older I hear many of our generation saying they feel invisible. Most everyone’s life I know continues to get busier, shrinking quality time with those we know and love, let alone for volunteer hours. Part time jobs outside the home for seniors are more limited – experience and education are no longer as valued with shrinking job opportunities. In addition, the economic reality of shrinking income have made our generation less able to afford family outings, to contribute to needy organizations or to assist our children and grandchildren as we’d like to.
I’ve greatly appreciated the fact that family and friends continue in their harried lives to make time to contact, keep in touch, or spend time with me. They encourage me to peel back the protective covering on my heart and time and ask God daily how I can encourage others who might feel shuttered away – with a smile, a treat, a note, a request for knowledge, a moment to listen, a touch; a glimpse of God.