Buzz surrounding television commercials is usually reserved for the Super Bowl, and for good reason. For last year’s big game, NBC commanded in excess of $5 million for a 30-second advertisement.
But I have to tell you, I saw a spot the other day from Gillette that put a lump in my throat and a smile on my face.
Yes, it’s an ad for a new razor, of which there are many, but it’s a lot more than a company simply hawking its wares. It features the story of a middle-aged man caring for his elderly father, who has suffered a debilitating stroke.
Here is the spot:
Isn’t that beautiful? Maybe it touched me so deeply because my own father died when I was 12, and I was never in a position to care for him in his time of need. It’s poignant and yet sometimes painful to watch roles reverse in a parent/child relationship. Many of my friends and colleagues have walked this road, and it’s not an easy one. In fact, I’m told that when you’re in the midst of it, the experience can be overwhelming. It’s only looking back that you can often see just how special and meaningful the journey has been.
When we talk about the sanctity of life and stress the fact that every person is precious in God’s eyes, we have people like Mr. Rex in mind. Aging can be both beautiful and cruel all at once. The stoic Epictetus once suggested that we’re “but a piece of crockery and a few quarts of blood.”
Of course we’re a lot more than that – but you get the point. Life is fragile.
Indeed, once strapping and vibrant people see their strength and mobility diminished, sometimes overnight. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are nearly 50 million people in the United States today who are over the age of 65. That number is expected to double by 2060. How we treat our most vulnerable citizens says a lot about us both personally and as a nation.
I’m grateful for people like Kristian Rex. The world is a better place when we sacrifice our own comforts for the sake of others. And thank you, Gillette, for adding so much decency and heart to your promotion.
Are you caring for an elderly loved one? I salute you. Please share your situation below. Your story may encourage others to do likewise – or inspire others who are in the middle of a care-giving season to hang strong and keep going.