Posted tagged ‘age’

Signs of Age and Age Distractions

July 6, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          July 6, 2019

                            

Every day one of our local TV stations has a paid 30 minute program where an auditorium full of smiling women listen to a presentation about beauty products and wonder creams. One of the products miraculously makes wrinkles disappear. 

We love to stay looking young…even when we aren’t really even close to be young. There are, however, certain signs of a person’s advancing age that can not be solved with facial creams and hair pieces.

For me, I am horrified by the bushels of hair that grow like weeds out of my ears and nostrils. I trim them, but they’re like dandelions; pull one and two more sprout up!  I can’t hide it. My dad didn’t have that problem. Of course, he had several rounds of radiation for skin cancers on his ears, so he had about half of his ear lobes missing.

Another sign of advancing age that is my giveaway happens when I sit down or stand up. The “moan and groan” audible sounds occur without fail. I’ll be kneeling in front of my basketball team’s bench and an intense battle is happening on the court. I go to stand up to argue a call and the first sound out of my mouth is “Ohhhh” in a pained core of way! The official sympathizes with my plight.

I’ll go to sit down in my seat on the plane and the same sound accompanies my connection with the seat. I don’t remember making those sounds ten years ago.

I know what you’re thinking. Not remembering things is also a sign! I may not remember, but I’m perceptive enough to figure out where you were going with that thought. 

You may be right, however, in your connecting memory with age. A couple of days ago I was talking to someone about the Big Red Machine of the mid-70’s. I can remember the potent lineup of that baseball team…Bench, Perez, Morgan, Concepcion…but I couldn’t remember the new password I chose two days ago for a certain web site. What’s up with that?

This may be too much information, but my morning trips to the bathroom are also a sign of my times. In fact…I’ve got to pause for a moment right here and…

I’m back! Last week I was playing basketball with some thirty-somethings and I did a cross-over dribble with the intent of heading to the basket. The young man guarding me, who is not that quick, easily blocked my way and then when I did a step-back to shoot he swatted my shot away. He’s maybe 5’11”! It was a sign that any illusions I might have had about still being quick were squashed and stomped upon. (To my credit, I did score on him a minute later with a left-handed half-hook shot! Boom, Baby!)

On the other side of the age indicator fence, I’ve learned how to fake it to make people think I’m kinda’ cool and young. Mainly, if the subject being talked about is totally foreign to me I’ve learned how to nod and make other facial expressions that cause me to look knowledgeable. For instance, I am totally clueless about Fortnite. My four year old granddaughter knows more about it and she’s never played or seen it! But I can make people think I am a Fortnite pro without saying a word. I just need to make faces that give a glimmer of intelligence. It’s an age distraction!

I’d better close now because it’s getting close to the time for another of my age signs…my afternoon nap! It’s what I look forward to shortly after I arise in the morning!

The Finger Grasp

January 16, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            January 16, 2016

                                        

He reached down with the offering plate in one hand. I placed my tithe envelope with it, and he grasped one of my fingers with two of his own and gave me a squeeze.

I looked at his wrinkled smiling face, dotted with the blemishes and signs of aging, and smiled back. I stood up and we hugged, and he whispered in my ear, “Praying for you!”

“Thank you, Rex!”

The two of us had been through some journeys together. His only son had died in a motorcycle accident a few years go. The pain of losing a child had worn on him. Sometimes we have no compass to help us navigate the storms of life. Losing his son was a time of wandering for him as he wrestled with the question of “why?” A person of faith is not immune to periods of doubt and confusion. Each day was an unsteady step in an uncertain direction.

His questions about heaven began. What was it like? Does a person go directly to heaven after he dies? How can a person be assured that he will receive everlasting life? Will his son recognize him, and will he recognize his son?

He had known Jesus for a long, long time. The questions weren’t those of a new follower, or someone who was thinking of following Jesus. The questions were searchings to bring hope to the wounds of his soul.

He was more concerned about his children, grandchildren, and their spouses. Would he see them someday in glory?

And then the cancer surfaced!

When you’re ninety-five you expect to have ailments. They could with the addition of each decade. A splotch here on his forehead from a clumsy tumble; a darkened area on his arm resulting from multiple attempts to draw blood…old age reminders that youth has long since disappeared from view. The weight loss, however, had been the most concerning thing. The cancer treatments and drugs have taken so much of his energy, his will to live.

And so he grasps my finger to tell me of his support, of his love, and of his appreciation for our journey together.

I want to call time-out and tell him to sit for a while, but some of the congregants have meals cooking in crockpots at home, while others simply want to beat the Methodists to the restaurants.

He holds my finger for just a moment more before releasing and giving me a wink with his left eye, and then he strolls back down the cenetr aisle of the sanctuary.

I’m hoping that he is still awake when I recognize, and talk about him in the midst of my last Sunday sermon as his pastor. The weariness that he shows each day makes that unlikely…but I love him enough to awake him, walk back to where he is sitting, and give his finger a final grasp!

Heartache, Helpless, and Blessed

June 8, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                June 8, 2015

                                

I’ve recently written quite a bit about loss…losing people close to me who have gone on to glory. Believe me! I don’t want to write about the process of grieving for the rest of my life, but I had two experiences yesterday that have profoundly affected me.

It began with “the missing!” A dear man and his wife, 94 and 91 in age, were missing from their usual spots in worship yesterday morning. Rex helps take the offering each Sunday morning and always squeezes my finger when I put my offering envelope in the plate. He looks at me and says “I’m praying for you”, and then he gives me a wink. It’s an important moment of the morning for me…but he wasn’t there.

He’s been battling a form of cancer, running a race against old age…and the age is catching up to him. He is a dear committed man of God and serving husband to his wife, Ann.

I  called him Sunday afternoon and asked if I could bring our group of young men by to pray with him and his wife, Ann, that evening.

“Well…that would be great, Pastor Bill! Yes…I think that would be all right!”

So we went, six of us, spent time with them, heard about his “miracle malts” that his granddaughter was bringing to him that seemed to make him feel better, and then we stood with them in a circle and prayed.

Each one of us felt a bit of heartache knowing that this couple were in the midst of daily struggles to just keep going. The weariness of their bodies was now dictating what could be done and what had to be surrendered. Things that we took for granted were now only maybes for the two of them.

But we were also blessed by simply being with them, holding hands with them and praying, listening to their stories told with wit and humor. They were so thankful that we had come, but we were even more thankful that we had been there.

After we prayed and hugged on them for a while we got in our vehicles and headed down the street to the ice cream place, BJ’s Velvet Freeze, and we all ordered malts!

Right before I had gone to be blessed by this pair of ninety somethings I became aware of another kind of heartache. I young lady I had coached for three years in basketball died. Twenty years old, full of potential and primed for life…suddenly gone. I was numbed by the news. On the wall behind me in my study is a team picture from her freshman year where she is standing just behind my right shoulder, in the midst of her teammates, looking happy and almost giggly. That was one of the sweetest, most fun groups of girls I’ve ever coached. They finished 13-5 and beat an undefeated Doherty team in the last game of the regular season…a group of Doherty girls that had not lost since they started playing together in 6th grade.

And this young lady was a vital part of the team, but more than that, she was just a delight to coach that year.

And now her light had faded out!

That same sense of heartache that I experienced as I sat with Rex and Ann I also experienced as I processed the news of the death of this young woman, but this time it was tagged together with helplessness. I wished I could have said something to her to change the course of her ship, to let the wind be in her sails again. I wish I could go back to her freshman year and be blessed once again by the giggling and the solidity of those relationships amongst teammates. I wish I could rewind and know that I could say one thing that I hadn’t said before that would result in June 5, 2015 being different…being a day of celebration and fulfilled promise instead of grief and deep, deep sorrow!

A strange day of lives that have been long, purposeful, and fulfilling…and a life that had barely started…and I can’t stop thinking about it!

Saying Goodbye to The Fifties

April 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     April 30, 2014

 

                                  “Saying Goodbye to the Fifties”

 

    In five days I will exit “The Fifties”, and change the first digit in my age to a six. I began the journey of my last week of this part of my life by going to the DMV and getting a new driver’s license. I fear, however that when the license arrives next week I will look like a dork in my new license picture…whatever a dork looks like! I should have worn a leisure suit to compliment my dazed and confused look.

I began the “fifties” with three children semi-living at home. Two of the three were either in college or that period when they are trying to “find themselves.” I exit the “fifties” with an empty nest. We don’t even have a cat anymore. She got tired of the same old food every day and had a stroke.

Two of our children are now married, and two grandkids have joined the family picture and brought new definition to the word “energetic.”

Ten years ago I was training for my first Pike’s Peak Ascent, a 13.2 mile race that Carol fondly referred to as “The Death Run.” It began in downtown Manitou Springs and took the crazed runners to the finish line on the top of Pike’s Peak. Ten years later I exit the “Fifties” with knees that talk to me each day in low moans and groans, and a back that echoes “amens” from behind. A flight of stairs now seems more daunting than a “14er” did ten years ago.

I began the “fifties” frequenting Chinese buffets around town. I exit the “fifties” as a frequenter of low-fat yogurt mixed with fruit. Chinese buffets now seem scary!

I began the “fifties with glasses. I exit with progressives. They make me sound like a liberal in my eyesight.

I began the “fifties” with one prescription for heartburn. Now a shoebox holds all of my prescriptions.

Ten years ago I’d stay up and watch “The Rockford Files” with James Garner after the late night news went off. Now bedtime comes before the late news comes on. It seems like a reward for making it through another day.

I began the “fifties” with both of my parents alive, plus my father-in-law. I exit this time with just my dad still living on this side of Glory.

The “fifties” were good. The “sixties”, I pray, are even better.

Unfortunately I’m stuck either way with my dorky looking driver’s license picture for the next ten years!

59 and 1/2!

November 5, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       November 5, 2013

 

                                           “59…and 1/2”

 

Today I’m fifty-nine and a half years old!

No birthday cake is necessary…or half a cake… or a half-baked cake, for that matter!

I can officially take money out of my IRA today and not be taxed on it. I’m serious! Yesterday I would have had to pay a 10% penalty tax. Today I’m richer even though I have not intention of taking the money out of the IRA. After all, I’m getting…like 1/2 a percent interest! It makes me giddy just thinking about it. I can almost hear the pennies dripping into the fund like a slow leaking faucet.

I didn’t know it, but there is actually a web site called “Fiftynineandahalf.com”. Who would have “thunk it?”  I can get t-shirts and other items there to prove my “fifty-nine and a halfishness!”

On the negative side, my wife Carol is gone tonight, at a camp with a bunch of sixth graders. There goes the party for me I guess! I’m going to have to celebrate my milestone by myself.

I’ll probably go to bed early!

Have you ever come to one of those points that you can choose to go one direction or another? 59 and 1/2 is kind of like that. I can hobble off to feebleness or seek to make the last third of my life the best yet.

Since I’ve been blessed with pretty good health, I’m looking forward to this last third as the best. Sometimes people get to a point like this and question whether their life still has any purpose. Thankfully I’ve never doubted that my life has purpose. I’ve just questioned the setting for where the purpose is pursued. I pastor, I coach, I write, I laugh, I mentor, I listen. All of those are part of my purpose being realized.

So I’m going to forego the t-shirt proclaiming my milestone event, and just walk forward into God’s future.

I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds like something a fifty-nine and a half year old would say.