Betty J. Slade
Eighty years old. Yikes! Did I think I would live this long? Am I desiring life in its fullest possibilities, knowing I’m not finished yet?
The next generation needs the wisdom, depth and light from us. Will we seize the opportunity? Or are we entering the next decade like old whining women and grumpy men? Are we finding our aches and pains difficult and becoming a burden on our families? Sometimes we want to drop out of life and call it quits.
Can’t do that. This is not the time to check out, but to check in. We are still growing to be more of what we’ve always been. In this next decade, we will leave behind what counts the most for our family and friends.
This light we give to younger people will have substance and depth. We must not see this age as an obstacle, but embrace it as life’s most profound period. When life is almost over, we are just beginning to understand the mystery of it.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “For age is opportunity no less/Than youth itself, though in another dress/and as the evening twilight fades away/The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” Interesting how we see clearer now in these evening years, when youth is still burning daylight with new energy and exciting ideas.
I desire a good quality of life. I went to the doctor and found I needed to have at least 10 procedures done on my legs. That meant 10 trips to Denver, six hours each way, gas and hotel. My children will have to take time off work to drive me.
I questioned if I really needed to do this, but the pain had increased to the point that I was becoming immobile. It seemed self-serving until I realized, in order to have a good quality of life, I must take care of my health. If I don’t want to be pushed around in a wheelchair and be a burden to my children; I have to do what is required today.
My doctor and her assistants are very young. I have discovered the younger generation computes everything in quick and rapid speech and movement. My daughter said to the doctor, “You’re speaking too fast. Please slow down. I know my mother didn’t understand any of the instructions. Neither did I.”
In the movies, the younger characters speak words so fast, there is no depth or acting, just reciting words. I wonder if they understand the words they are saying. Us older people turn on the subtitles in order to grasp the scene because we want to know the depth of the story.
There are a few rare young people who desire understanding beyond their age and will embrace the wisdom of older people. One example is a writer with whom I spend time. At 28, she has such a sense of story. She is doing the last editing on my book. She will stop, ponder and will talk about a previous paragraph or chapter and how to take the meaning to another level in concept. She is what it means to be an old soul. She looks at the whole story and will go to the depth of a word for the right meaning. I embrace who she is. She is a writer and editor with depth of reasoning.
My grandson spent a Sunday afternoon with me. We spoke on deep things. I was taken aback by the lucid and clear insight he has. We talked ideas, future and the destiny we have entered into, both at his age and mine. When he left, he told me again how he enjoyed our time together.
I knew how he felt. I felt the same, deep called to deep. He was hungry to fill the depth of his soul. What other 26-year-olds would find contentment talking for five hours with their grandmother?
“The evening of a well-spent life brings its lamps with it,” French moralist Joseph Joubert wrote. As we grow more and more with intent, we can appreciate our lives, embrace them and give light to the ones who are ready to be illuminated.
The purpose of life becomes more visible as I live it, like the stars at night. In my younger days, I was too busy to look up. I see more than I did before. I am freer to see things, value relationships and know who I am. I can find me in me.
Final brushstroke: I believe we are luminous in our old age. It’s been a lifetime of transformation, and we have a responsibility to shine our light into a dark world.