Do you have parents, grandparents, or other loved ones who are suffering from any of the long-term troubles that occur naturally in old age? Here are five ways that you can return their love and support:
Someone asked me the other day, “Why do you so often tell your age?” Well, I think it’s wonderful how God has kept me through so many years. I’ll tell it again.—I’m in my 80th year [in 1966]!
Brenda was nearly 80 when her husband died and she was left alone in a large house in a mid-sized city with a fairly high crime rate. Her two sons lived an hour away, but her daughter, who didn’t, wondered how her mother would cope and prayed for her often.
Months passed. One day Brenda was reading obituaries in the newspaper and came across a name she recognized from many years before—Nick, with whom she had become close friends when they were both teenage counselors at a summer camp for children. The obituary was for Nick’s wife. Memories flooded Brenda’s mind. She wrote Nick a condolence card, and he responded with a thank-you that also expressed his delight at hearing from her again. They continued to write each other, then spoke on the phone, and eventually he visited.
Odd, isn’t it, how our perceptions change as we age. When I was very small, my brother, who was all of 18 months older, defined “big.” When I was in 1st grade, I thought 4th graders were a higher life form, but by the 6th grade I was old enough and wise enough to realize that the new batch of 4th graders were in fact little kids.
My parents surely knew everything there was to know until I was a teenager, when they became clueless practically overnight. I could never imagine them as children, but now it’s hard to believe that my own children are parents. My grandparents always seemed old, but now I’m a grandparent myself, and I don’t feel old at all. Why should I? My mother-in-law doesn’t look or act old to me, and she has great-grandchildren. Age, I’m finding out, is more an attitude than a matter of years.
When I was in primary school, I wrote a report about Juan Ponce de León , the Spanish conquistador who in 1513 went looking for the legendary fountain of youth but found Florida instead. The story fascinated me, though I couldn’t quite grasp why people would search so arduously for a cure for aging. Growing old was something I saw happening to only a few folks, most notably my grandparents. Back then, old age was something far, far away. But now that I’m in my mid-50s, that port of call is on my horizon and gets closer with every passing year.