A couple years ago I had a day of lessons in aging…
Mom asked me twice how old I was. The first time I answered, “Fifty three.”
She said, “Oh my goodness!” I asked her how old she was. She tilted her head back and said, “H-mmm, let’s see…” And then she abruptly looked at me, startled and with wide opened eyes and said, “I don’t know!”
“Do you want me to tell you?” I asked.
“No,” she replied, suddenly unconcerned.
A few hours later she again randomly asked me old I was and I told her. This time she calmly replied, “Oh, fifty-three…okay.” So I asked her how old she was and she replied, “I don’t know.”
“Do you want me to tell you how old you are?”
Her eyes sparkled, as if I was letting her in on a great secret, and she replied, “Why don’t you!”
“You’re eighty years old,” I said.
“EIGHTY!” she exclaimed, in a loud shocked voice. “You’re CRAZY!!”
I was still visiting with Dad when an aunt called. She is in her eighties and lives in a house by herself in the country. Thankfully she has relatives that live close by. She told Dad that her brothers and sisters all call in and check up on each other every day or so.
Shortly after I got home another elderly relative called me. She is in her nineties and had gone to see “The Church Basement Ladies” with a group from her own church. Though not a weepy person, she said tears were streaming down her face as she watched this comedy—because it reminded her of her own mother who was always cooking big meals in their small town church basement. After the show she went home and got a phone call about her older sister being moved to hospice care.
It all makes me think how brave older people have to be. The longer they live the more people they have to miss and the more adjustments they must make.
I suppose that’s one of the reasons why God planned families and children and grandchildren. And why God so often speaks of caring for the widows.
Growing old is shocking and crazy. Losing loved ones is brutal. But knowing you have family and friends loving you and checking in on you can make all the difference.
Today I read a quote from Mother Theresa, “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right where you are—in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools…You can find Calcutta all over the world if you have eyes to see…”
I pray I will do a better job of caring for the lonely in my own world. Someday Jesus will call all who believe in Him Home and age will be meaningless in the glow of eternity. But meanwhile, the elderly are treasures that we are to tenderly cherish and care for. And in that tender caring there are special blessings found no where else.