Anand Tucker's moving and thought-provoking 2007 film starring Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth asks when you last saw your father – really saw your father: not just by being together in the same place, but by seeing what makes him tick, seeing the complete human being as he is known to his friends.
Sadly, according to research published earlier this month, one in eight adults have gone a whole year or more without seeing their parents at all. 43 per cent of the 3,000 people surveyed for the live-in care agency Christies Care claimed they live too far away from their elderly parents, and a third blamed their busy lifestyles from making more regular contact. Just one in five older people get to see their children at least once a month. Other research has also revealed that more than a quarter of those who live in a different part of the country from their grandchildren go for a month without even hearing a word from them on the phone.
As we have noted previously, a third of the UK's elderly population lives alone, almost half a million pensioners leave their homes only once a week and a further 300,000 are completely housebound. In our forthcoming completely revised edition of our 1990 publication From Generation To Generation, we note that the biblical model envisions older people playing a significant part in the community, as an example to others and bringing benefit through their age and experience. We all enjoy a mutual interdependence with others that means we are individually and collectively diminished for every person with whom we should have a natural relationship but from whom we allow the excuses of long office hours, kids' homework and after-school activities, of illness, infirmity and feeling too tired to separate us.
Who should you make it a priority to phone tonight or visit this weekend? Who in your neighbourhood or church might you invite round for a drink and a chat? Whether you are old or young, who might you encourage today?