Grey hair is glorious?
I was cursed with grey hair at a young age of around 35. I was blessed with my mom’s genetic makeup. I am thrilled to have hair but would rather have it be my normal brown instead of greyish white. The Bible does seem to give some sense that there is some type of glory or wisdom that is wrapped up in having grey hair. The assumption is that you would be older, more experienced and wiser. Whereas in my case it was premature grey with the fallacious assumption that equaled being wise beyond my years. I would agree that age brings more of life experiences, which doesn’t necessarily equate to being more patient or wiser.
I think most would be quick to admit to being in denial about their real age as they approach those different barriers like 40, 50, 60 or wooow 70. I have many friends who truly embrace the notion that age really doesn’t matter. I could rattle off clichés about age doesn’t matter or something about mind over matter or ? Yet the reality is we choose how old we want to be, whether that is acting like a Jr. Higher when you are a 20 something college student or the 40 something who thinks he’s cool to pursue a 20 something girlfriend.
There is a sense that those who have great health, which is truly a gift from God, don’t really allow their age to limit what they choose to do. I have a good friend Art, who is at least 80 and is still involved in helping with doing tutoring and helping out in an amazing way with our group. I will never forget the first time Art asked one of the younger kids how old they thought he was and a little 5 year old gal said I think you are like 140. The next little boy then echoed, ‘No I think he is more like 100 years old.’ Finally someone got at least a little closer and said around 73 and he was actually 74 at that point. He is now over 80 and just as capable as ever to share his smile and his generous heart in helping.
The downside to old age for many, not all, is that your body starts to give up. I have become my dad’s caretaker over the last 3 years. I truly have loved becoming his special friend and advocate. The difficulty is at times I think my life is just watching him get old and prepare to die. I so much want him to experience more of life and be more than someone who watches the History Chanel for 10 hours a day, eat three meals and have an occasional visitor. It is so easy to drop off our loved ones at the closest Senior Complex or Nursing Home.
My dad has now lived at a very nice Senior Complex, Chris Ridge, which was high end apartment living, assisted living, memory loss help or nursing-rehab floor, he’s been in the hospital twice, done a stint at rehab and is now in a group home. The goal selfishly is to have him in a home environment where those who help him truly act like family and give him the respect, love and attention he so needs and desires. The challenge is that it is difficult for all of this to happen all of the time. One of my dad’s fellow residents told me two weeks ago that he believed that he wasn’t gone to be around much longer. Mr. Otis had renal failure, was a diabetic and had respiratory problems, so I knew that each day was literally a gift for him. He was a real gentle guy that clearly loved God.
I was gone for about a week with having the flu and being out of town. I was very concerned about my dad’s situation but still wanted to know about Mr. Otis. As I rang the doorbell in my dad’s group home I saw his normal caretaker. I asked the obvious about Mr. Otis and discovered that he had been admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. The challenge was that Mr. Otis needed to have seen his doctor a month or so ago and that never happened. So instead he ends up in the ER with pneumonia, which for many older and frail seniors mean they reach their end. Unfortunately, Mr. Otis succumbed to pneumonia with many complications. I know that as he shared that he looked forward to going home to be with the Lord and his wife.
Yeah, I think at times that getting old sucks because everything you use to be able to do you talk about, fantasize about or just get bitter, angry and tough to be around. I know that my dad has become actually a very pleasant person to be around who is easy to love today. Yet, I know that he has given his caretaker a ‘run for his money’! Dementia is a horrible disease that robs you of your mind and ability to relate to circumstances. Initially this isn’t that difficult because everyone forgets their keys, misplaces their wallet or can’t find their book they are reading.
I have some amazing friends who are in their 90’s who write me long letters and pray for me on a daily basis. They are an awesome testimony to the gift of old age for a few who are able to age gracefully and still be a vibrant part of God’s family. I truly hope and pray I can be like my father in-law who is still going strong at 85 or is it 86. Today as I return to see my dad I have to decide whether he is recovering from the flu or whether I should take him to the hospital. It isn’t easy to know sometimes what to do. Yeah, it is easy getting older, especially when you have to be dependent upon someone else to make your life happen.
This summer Anne and I will have a young couple stay with us that have a little guy that is seven months old. It will be refreshing to have the extremes of a toddler and my dad be part of our daily routine. Life is an adventure that is lived both frontwards and backwards at times. Right now I’m not totally sure of my direction at times, so tonight I will be skating with a large group of teens and feeling more like a 20 something!