to get it right now that I am old.
to give love and joy, never heartbreak.
to hold all lightly, free to let go.
to seek God’s hand when I suffer.
to forgive others and be forgiven.
to have faith there is some great purpose,
an after- life better than this one.
to while still in dark, believe in light.
and to go with hope into the night.
And then comes the morning, yesterday’s sorrows behind? Maybe, maybe not.
I thought my faith would grow stronger and it would be easier in old age with less needs, children grown, more wisdom. Well, it ain’t necessarily so. Many days it’s a struggle to just stay physically functional. Wisdom seems to have only come about seeing how I screwed up in the past. Too soon old, too late smart sums it up. Grown children have troubles I can’t fix and that I worry that I caused somehow. I have more dead friends than alive ones and the ones I still have are also struggling. I find myself facing the probability of living alone for the first time in my seventy-nine years of life. I love my grandchildren more than life itself, but have no say about what happens to them. And physically can’t do things for and with them like I used to enjoy so much. And people, that I have grown to love, leave and don’t look back. And while I know these are necessary losses and part of my journey with God, on the days when I can’t see His footprints, it’s a struggle to stay emotionally functional. I quit crying some seventeen or eighteen years ago, when dealing with heartbreak over grandchildren born facing incredibly hard problems, because I thought if I ever let myself cry, I’d never stop. I was right. I’ve cried so much lately, I should be dehydrated.
I never was very good at persevering through things. I usually was good at finding a way around or out of them. About thirty years ago, I felt that God was challenging me by giving me a new name, “Perseverance.” I did realize even then, that this wasn’t necessarily good news about my future years. But, I have learned with grace, to persevere. I have even learned to laugh while gritting my teeth. (Not easy on any level 🙂 ) But sometimes, I just don’t want to. Today is one of those times
But, I will. I will grit my teeth, hang on with my fingernails, and be thankful for all the beauty, love, and joy God has given me in my life. And with Her grace, I will dig for that damn pony in all this manure. 🙂
Addendum added four hours later:
OKay, in an attempt to look on the brighter side of things today: Getting into pain from vacuuming means I can only manage one room’s floor before sitting down a while to get out of pain. This is good not only because a rest does get me out of pain, it also gives me a time out to go on-line.
And in my time spent today preparing for my women’s scripture class tomorrow, I read the funny little story about Jesus needing two tries to heal the blind man, because after Jesus tried once by putting saliva on his eyes, the man still couldn’t see other people as being like himself. It helps to know that people who don’t have natural empathy for others, may eventually be healed and acquire it. But, I haven’t figured out the significance of using saliva yet! Unless it means that spitting in someone’s eye doesn’t do much good. 🙂
So, this Monday has had goodies to balance the baddies. Thanks be to God!!!
Well, they’ve ruined my physical therapy now. All us old and lame had bonded and developed a sense of community as fellow sufferers who all now come in generous sizes and slightly lumpy shapes. Yesterday they started testing young male job applicants’ physical fitness for a local industry. So, here we old folks are gasping and sweating (and making inappropriate noises), while struggling to bend over two inches below waist level and these young hunks are flat handing the floor. I think I was two the last time I could flat hand the floor. If I was able to be invisible, I might actually enjoy watching them. (Little old ladies should get to have fun too.) But realizing that I might be the cause of someone never marrying, because they were prematurely exposed to what a prospective wife might look and “sound” like in old age, is too much guilt to bear. So I deny myself the pleasure of the debate between pecs and buns and do my exercises with my eyes closed, pretending if I can’t see them, they can’t see me.
I just spent two weeks in a convalescent home for therapy for a badly shattered shoulder.
After a few days I felt good enough at eating with my left hand to eat lunch in the dining room.
Being there temporarily, I had just brought exercise clothes.The others were all dressed quite elegantly, even with matching jewelry. I felt a bit shabby until a helper put baby blue terry cloth bibs on all of us. Somehow bibs are a great equalizer!
I have wondered often why God allows old age to be so humbling. Having some pride seems a virtue of sorts. But now I think that is what old age is about. Recognizing that we are all equal in God’s eyes and loved just as we are without one plea or status symbol. Over and over Jesus tells us that His way is not the world’s way, that our value is based on the love of God, not achievement, riches, nationality, religion, image.
More and more I realize that only when we either let go or are stripped of those, do we discover not only our human brotherhood, but our oneness with all, including Jesus, the human expression of the unconditional love that is God.
What was the “Way” of Jesus? It was to witness to the Love that is God by healing the sick, feeding the hungry and calling us to do the same. How did it end in worldly terms? In helplessness, unvalued by the world, identified with the lost, no longer even able to help himself, never-the-less others, abandoned by almost all of those closest to him.
I can tell you from experience with my mother’s dying by inches with Alzheimer’s and friends who spent their last years in nursing homes or even alone most days living with their children who work, Jesus’ last days describe many peoples’ last years.
We leave the world the way we came into it: naked, helpless, equal, of infinite value, and loved by God because of whom God is, not whom we are.
And the challenge of life is to become able to love ourselves and others the same way.
Life is a school where tests are not about passing or failing, but are a learning tool instead. Loneliness is a universal experience meant to fuel a lifelong quest for God. And the vulnerabilities of those we love open us to prayer. Then the joy of loving leads us from just crying “Help!” to celebrations of “Thanks” and “Praise.” Lack of money challenges us to learn to live by God’s priorities. Loss of health brings us to depend on Him. The old are freed from caring what others think; they see that only God’s opinion matters. And recess comes when once we admit we’ve passed our peak, we’re free to just be comic relief.
1. Learn to laugh at yourself.
2. Pick friends with a sense of humor.
3.Cultivate a few healthy younger friends.
4. Practice being invisible to discover some of the benefits.(See Pecs and Buns post.)
5. Practice driving a scooter in Walmart on Saturdays.
6. Develop the habit of never passing up a bathroom.
7. Find clean convenient bathrooms on all frequent routes. (This helps with children and grandchildren, who tend to ignore their early warning signals and will help you when your early warning system becomes defunct before the rest of you.)
8. Choose tattoos that are old age friendly.
9. Buy stock in Charmin and Post it Notes. (Society is aging as a whole.)
10. Choose Doctors the same age as you. (They will believe you when you say everything hurts and with luck will live at least one day longer than you.)