I tend to write what is on my heart and as a result some of you will laugh at what I am about to write, others will smile with that knowing twinkle, some will be challenged, and others of you might just say poppycock, because what I am writing on is aging. Yes, I know I am not aged as of yet; but the truth is, I am no youngster anymore either. I have reached that age where the things I observed and didn’t understand as my parents aged are now making sense. The extra time it takes to do things; the physical challenges or limitations brought on by age, illness or injury; the lower energy level that says not today, maybe tomorrow. And the loss of dreams when you realize that life has changed and perhaps it is time to say goodbye to what most likely will never be. Sounds sad, that last phrase; say goodbye to what most likely will never be. However, I am discovering it doesn’t need to be. Yes, some things will never be and I grieve the loss of those things. All too often I have witnessed that as people age, they get stuck in the grief of what won’t be and what can’t be, rather than look to the future-and the present-and say, “What can?” They get stuck in the “I’m too old” or the “If only I was younger” mindset.
Just for fun I looked up some accomplishments of men and women over the age of 60. (Now keep in mind I am not 60 yet, so I have much to look forward to 🙂
Here is just a sampling of what I discovered through a search of the Internet. Many, If not most, of these people are not famous or well-known.
After the age of 62, self-taught Morris Hirshfield began painting.
At the age of 75, Barbara Hillary, cancer survivor, became one of the oldest people, and the first black woman, to reach the North Pole (she got there on skis). And this year, 4 years after reaching the North Pole, she journeyed to the South Pole. She is now the only woman to have visited both poles.
At the age of 80, Christine Brown of Laguna Hills, California flew to China and climbed the Great Wall.
At the age of 96, Harry Bernstein published his first book, “The Invisible Wall,” which recounted his childhood in an English mill town. He started writing it at 93 as a way to deal with the loss of his wife of almost 70 years.
At the age of 95, Nola Ochs graduated college with a degree in general studies with an emphasis in history. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest college graduate.
At the age of 90, Mary Armstrong, great-grandmother of 9, celebrated her birthday by jumping out of an airplane at 12,000 feet, for the very first time; it was a tandem jump and, yes, she survived 🙂
At the age of 62, Richard Brockbank , a craftsman in wood, went to an orphan village, in Russia, to use his wood carving and joinery skills to help with construction of new residences.
At the age of 83, great-grandmother Joyce Patrick learned to read and write.
Grandma Moses began painting in her 70’s.
At the age of 102, Alice Porlock of Great Britain published her first book, “Portrait of My Victorian Youth.”
At age 77, Helen Heubi obtained her Ph.D. in Therapeutic Counseling. She had to fit in two cataract operations while doing the last-minute work.
At age 67, Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” earned his airplane pilot’s license.
At the age of 80, Oliver Wendell Holmes published “Over the Teacups.”
At the age of 84, Pearl Williams of Dallas caught her first fish-bluegill.
As you can see, this is quite a list; this list could be pages and pages long. Many men and women have accomplished some firsts, and completed many goals, long into their aging years. Society has painted a picture of the aged as being helpless and of no value; and many of the aged have bought into this lie. I was beginning to buy into the lie. This lie is so subtle-it is a fantastic tool of the devil. Oh, how he would like us to believe that as we age we have no more value, no more worth, nothing more to offer others. It’s a lie that we must fight to dissolve. This lie breeds apathy and a spirit of worthlessness and of no future – – – finished, washed up. It creates the “If only I was a few years younger mentality”.
You/me, we are the generation that needs to step up to the plate and say, “Don’t count me out!” We don’t have to do it by shouting, or by marching against congress, or anything that drastic. No, we can do it as we start living like we believe we matter; we can do it one person at a time as we come alongside others and share the gifts that God has given each of us. We all have gifts and talents. Some of us are great prayer warriors; some of us are great listeners, great cooks, good at making ends meet, artists, singers, shoppers, drivers, welders, pianists, readers, card makers, etc. We all have skills that others need. Each one of us has something!
God is never finished with us until that day when we enter the heavenly gates. We can sit ourselves on the shelf or we can realize that there is much God can accomplish through us-if we are willing to take the first step. I wish there was a list that went something like this: at the age of 60 I sat with ________ who was dying of cancer and took his last breath. Or, at the age of 65, I had many chats with a high-school girl who was struggling at home; we talked about God and she is now serving Him with her life in Ethiopia. Or, at the age of 70, I went to _______ and taught underprivileged moms how to take care of their newborns. Or, I volunteered to teach illiterate adults to read and write. Or, at the age of 75, I shared what God has done in my life, at a nursing home, and as a result some accepted Christ. Or, at the age of 80, I read to patients in the hospital and visited shut-ins who have no family members. Or, at the age of 90, I spiritually adopted a gal whose mom was no longer living, and she needed a mom. That last one was me; I was the adoptee, and what a difference that woman made in my life. I suspect there just might be such a list in heaven. We will never know the accomplishments or the difference we could make in another’s life if we buy into the lie of having nothing to offer or “If I was only a few years younger, then …”
Until next time