God meets us where we are—in the human condition.
“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14 NKJV).

“The years teach much which the days never knew.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was younger, I envied  old people. All my friends were old. I wanted to be old too. Now I am. Only they’ve passed on, and I cannot be old with them.

You’re old if you can remember …
… when the poor were too proud to take charity.
… when charity was a virtue not an organization.
… when songs had a tune.
… when clerks and repairmen aimed to please.
… when you could always find a helping hand when you needed it.
… when law enforcement was taken for granted.
… when criminals went to jail.
… when clergy talked about religion.
… when a Sunday drive was an adventure not an ordeal.
… when you could get away from it all for a while.
… when Christmas was merry and Christ was in it. ~Adapted

I have outlived my friends, my forebears, even my husband. The only family I have left are my children and grandchildren.

I get lonesome. Not because there are not people around me, but because they are not age-related people. I miss the old days and the old crowd—maybe the old me—someone to talk to—someone with shared memories and shared perspective.

After all, “A man’s age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

And I hurt—physically. I suffer with aches and pains every day. Even with aspirin, I am seldom without pain.

And I am slow—like a turtle most of the time. Occasionally I have good days when I can outwalk my child, but that is rare. Knowing how long it takes me, I make allowances. I take it one step at a time. If I have to carry something, I know that making several trips, however bothersome, will still get the job done. The important thing is to finish, not to win.

And I don’t do stairs well. My knees hurt. Whenever possible, I take the elevator. My hands are becoming gnarled. My handwriting’s gone to pot. I have to get a magnifying glass to decipher it.

Though I used to be strong, I can’t lift too well nowadays. Worse, I can’t do for myself. Even mowing the lawn, keeping house, and changing a light bulb. I once designed a house, built it, wired it, installed the plumbing, hung the wallboard, painted, cooked, and canned. Once I even changed my own spark plug wires, points, plugs, distributor cap, air filter, battery. Nowadays I’m doing good to wash and vacuum the car or drive it to a place to let someone else put air in the tires. Home repairs that I used to do myself, I now ignore or pay someone to do for me. If it’ll keep, I let it.

Sometimes I can’t even push too well. I’ll think I’m pushing a button when I haven’t applied enough pressure for it to register—even the remote for the car or the TV, even the keys on my keyboard. (I haven’t played the piano in years, though I used to play several hours a day—along with a few other instruments.) That’s the reason I hit the handicap button at the entrance to a public building—it’s hard to open the main door. The lack of physical muscle and stamina is frustrating.

“Whatever poet, orator, or sage may say of it, old age is still old age.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

At church I attend an old folk class. Of course, they call it “senior adult.” Some of those tottering folk are over 90 years old, a few near 100, and still going strong. They still drive their own car, still shop for their own groceries, still color their hair and try to look nice, still manage their own banking and finances, and some even still work, mostly volunteer. One 95-year-old lady goes regularly to the nursing home to visit shut-ins—some of whom are younger than she is. They think of me as a kid because I am closer to the age of their children.

One wintry night, one of those lean, tall, stately nonagenarian ladies, who still recited poetry from memory and looked closer to 70, was skirting the parking lot at a hurried pace. I marveled that I couldn’t keep up with her. And she was blind at that!

We age differently. Some persons better than others. I’ve seen gray-headed 40-year-olds that looked 20 years older and red-headed 70-year-olds that looked 20 years younger.

“To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Someone asked why my senior crowd still looks pretty good. All I can tell you is that they are Christian, live clean lives, and don’t drink, smoke, chew, gamble, cuss, or run around. One fellow in his eighties has beat cancer seven times. His wife, 13 years his senior, still takes off her shoe, underneath the dinner table, and playfully caresses his ankle with her stocking foot. They are a lively crowd. But they still don’t satisfy that yearning for the folk—or the life—I‘ve left behind.

When as a child, I laughed and wept, Time crept.
When as a youth, I dreamed and talked, Time walked.
When I became a full-grown man, Time ran.
When older still I daily grew, Time flew.
Soon shall I find in traveling on, Time gone. ~Anonymous

Copyright © 2014 Alexandra Lee

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