Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Time (reprise)

Is it strange to have aging and the drumbeat of time constantly on my mind the last few days--I mean, to the extent that I start comparing metaphors for old age in my head as if I were trying to write my autobiography already: a worn-out tennis shoe, a threadbare couch...? I don't know why but memory loss and gray hair never felt so close.

This quote and the context thereof is found in this post from last January. You will have to forgive me if, having advanced only one birthday since then, I am now indulging in such introspections again at the ripe old age of twenty-three. Still, it has been interesting to trace the above thoughts and the resulting actions from then to here. It has also been interesting to build on those thoughts for the sake of the thoughts themselves. The fact is, I'd rather be always aware of my place in the larger scheme--to understand more intimately the fact that I am a mere breath away from age and eternity.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to stop and sit a while with my 87-year-old grandpa. I noticed that he was particularly perturbed by his immediate situation. He was a prisoner of his chair--he couldn't get up; of his thoughts--for he was keenly aware of his helplessness; of his mind--for he couldn't manage to bring any kind of order to the meaning of things around him. I sat in on his frustration as he struggled with what to do with himself. I asked him how long he had been sitting there at the table and I don't think he really knew. For the next 15 minutes I just sat there, mentioning names and places and churches he had preached at. He confessed that most of the immediate past with regard to his ministry was hazy and run-together. He seemed to accept this, knowing that he had loved and served many flocks and was loved in return.

He could remember more from his earlier life however. He asked me if I remembered a certain woman from his congregation in San Jose. Naturally I didn't recognize the name, and he admitted it was probably "long before your time."

But here Grandpa displayed a keen bit of insight and wisdom regarding his situation. He remembered consoling this elderly woman who was bedridden and fraught with memory-loss and all sorts of ailments.

"I know what you are going through...I understand," he said with all the pastorly compassion he could muster.

"Oh no you don't!" came the stern, but honest rebuke.

"I do now..." was Grandpa's good humored reply, fifty some-odd years later.

I pondered this and it struck me more deeply than it ever had before. I thought forward to the future, as I have done before. Should God spare me as long as my grandpa, will it be a comfort to remember how he handled his weakness? I don't know anyone else who has retained so much dignity in the later years of their life as he. And yet it isn't in this that he finds comfort--else it would not be true dignity. The fear of man brings a snare to the old as well as the young. Looking at him I see someone who counts the splendor of youth as a loss worthy of all that is beautiful in old age.
The silver-haired head is a crown of glory if it is found in the way of righteousness.
-Proverbs 16:31
<< Home 3 Comments:
Blogger Rebekah said...

Aging has been on my mind lately as a result of our grandparents as well. The question is: how do we, young, comparatively foolish, fit, grandchildren be "good grandchildren" at this point in Grandpa's life. He has retained an incredible amount of dignity and authority as you said, and that makes me fundamentally at a loss as to how to relate to his situation. Any ideas?

4:07 PM, June 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Love him dearly in spite of his situation...and keep showing that to him by spending as much time as you have available, with him and Grandma. They love that! You are so special to be thinking about them this way!

4:54 PM, June 06, 2007  
Blogger Crystal said...

This is a very hard spot to be in for sure but I would suggest to you that the best thing you can give them is your love. By that I don't mean, just a quick once in a while, "I love you" but rather time. So mnany times the aging feel like they are imposing on everyones time, they can't remember what is exactly happening in the here and now and they much more scared and frusterated than they are willing to admit. Little attentions, entering into their world even if it's not your world at the moment, remembering things that they like and just giving them time that doesn't include looking at your watch all the time to make sure you aren't late to rush off to your next thing. These are the things that matter so much in the sunset of life.
Aging is truely a journey like no other.

9:50 AM, June 07, 2007  

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