Betty Ago: Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Does this sound familiar from elementary school playground? It is so NOT true!

Any child, being told that they were not wanted or not loved, will carry that burden for a lifetime. We took seriously the words our parents spoke. Words spoken directly or overheard are both effective. The words directed at us from respected adults like teachers and clergy and police can influence us. Words that we heard or read from fictional characters can also be influential. Were those words from the ‘goodies’ or the ‘baddies?’ A speech from the president can change the national mood. Yes, words mean a lot.

Living in a close community brings the effects of words sharply to mind.

“A is getting fat.”
“B always spills soup on his shirt.”
“C shouldn’t wear sneakers to dinner.”
“D belongs to the wrong political party.”
“Why doesn’t E go to church?”
“R drinks too much.”
“We’re getting too many of ‘those’ kind of people here.”

These hurtful remarks demean the person speaking them.

Rumors spread here faster than the flu. Some of them are funny: Like the one about the Brookdale cookie recipe being sold and thus we can never have them again. Romances are a popular topic. I like that one because it reaffirms the fact that while we may be old, we are never too old to love. Sometimes a rumor can be devastating. It was reported that Q had died. He had been ill for some time. The cards and notes quickly poured into the mailbox of his “widow.” Well, Q was most certainly alive and under the good care of his wife and the nursing staff. Q’s illness was already stressful for his family. But, can you imagine how his wife felt when opening her mail?

I have learned to check the source of information. I do not repeat hurtful remarks. I sometimes defend those that are being criticized. I am far from perfect, but I do try because I know how hurtful words can be.

Betty Ago


Betty is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale entry fee communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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