I just love old people. ( “Old” is a very lugubrious term these days, so for the purpose of this story, I’ll just define it as those at least a generation older than I am!:))
I’ve always been fascinated with the “gray-headed” crowd. In my college days, my internship was on church programming for Senior Citizens. I loved having interviews and hearing the stories of the dear, old saints in our church. I also spent a summer working as a Nurses’ Aide at the local Nursing Home. That was quite the experience for me! Those days taught me some important lessons:
- When you are 5′ 1″ and skinny, it’s very important to get someone reliable to do people transfer lifts. (One lady let me down and I “sort of” dropped a man! Yikes a ram a!)
2. Shaving a man with the guard still on his electric razor is quite ineffective.
3. God did not gift me in any way to be in the field of health care…! (I’m sure you’re relieved to hear I’m aware of that!:))
One idea I had as a young girl was that older people were “wiser”. I wanted to learn from them…because I, too, wanted to be “wise”. However, as years have gone by, it has disappointing to realize that older doesn’t necessarily equal wiser.
Some older folk are incredibly sweet. They have a kindness and a gentleness about them. They love people. They draw people to the Jesus they love. They grow “sweeter as the years go by”. Their opinions are a result of a careful thought process and often their life stories are riddled with heart-breaking reality. Bitterness is noticeably absent from their lives…and forgiveness is noticeably present. They are “wise”…I want to learn from them. I want to be like that when I’m “old”.
Others… well… are not that way. I’m thinking of the man who tried to punch me in the nose at the Nursing Home when I was trying to escort him to dinner…and also the sharp, cutting words that sometimes come out of the mouth of a person of the “older generation”.
“Oh, I don’t want to be like that when I get old,” I whine to my husband.
“Well,” he always replies (with a smile), “then start working on it now!”
My friend, Sharon, (written about here) told me something last summer that I’ve been pondering ever since. Her father worked for years as a Pastor to Senior Citizens. She told me something he had told her,
“Aging is the true test of how close a person is to the foot of the cross; For as we age, we no longer have the physical or mental strength to mask what is going on in our hearts. What’s inside comes out.”
So, I guess aging gracefully means I need to be constantly working on the state of my heart…right now. If I want to be a gracious, kind old person…I must work on being a gracious, kind “younger” person. It’s a day by day process…as that is what “aging” is as well!
While trying to apply this in a practical way, I’ve decided to start studying examples of gracious, godly people. I’ve started with Ruth Bell Graham’s biography. Oh, I wish I could sit and have coffee with her… But, I guess that’s a whole ‘nother story…
And on another note, I’ve started a mental list of what I don’t want to do when I get old. Since my memory might need jogging by then, I’ll write the first thing down here. Maybe I’ll stumble upon it in a timely manner. Here it goes:
When you are old, Ritajoy, DO NOT click, pick, or fiddle with your false teeth in public. It’s just gross!!!” Even better…perhaps, avoid the false teeth all-together!:)