Growing Older Gracefully

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Growing Older Gracefully

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As a part of the Baby Boomer age group, I find myself reflecting more and more on aging. How would I like to be when I become a senior citizen? How would I like to be remembered when I die?

We have all been around older people. Some lift us up with their wonderful example of giving and sacrifice and tremendous wisdom. We also encounter elderly people who are very difficult, demanding and unpleasant to be around, and we simply groan with the thought of another encounter with them.

While sickness or the feeling of being useless can play a role in a person being unpleasant and demanding, it doesn’t have to. I remember two elderly people, both dying of cancer. One was so demanding and felt the world was owed to her. Every time you were around her, you left depressed. I only visited her out of guilt.

Then there was Emma.

She was in great pain, but never did I hear her complain. On my visits with her I would be met with a warm smile and a hug.

Emma was the sweetest lady I knew. She was in great pain, but never did I hear her complain. On my visits with her I would be met with a warm smile and a hug. I always looked forward to my next visit. Emma had very little in this life, but she gave much to all those who were around her. She had decided that sickness gave her no right to become demanding and cranky.

There is another elderly gentleman who comes to mind when I think of how I would like to grow old gracefully. Miles, in his late 70s, brings warmth and smiles to everyone he comes in contact with.

Miles has had several leadership roles over the years, including being union president where he worked. Maybe Miles should be cranky and demanding according to some stereotypes, but he isn’t. He learned long ago how to treat people and has made himself very useful to the Church and all those he comes in contact with.

Miles started attending the United Church of God when he was 74 years old, and soon after he was baptized. He hit the ground running by serving and getting involved. He became one of the oldest students to graduate from Ambassador Bible Center. He has involved himself with the young people by mentoring and encouraging them. He supports all the activities, and he frequently comes into the Church office to help stuff hundreds of envelopes with biblical literature.

In spite of all he does, in my many conversations with Miles, I have never heard him complain about anything. I don’t think he even knows what the word cranky means!

As I reflect on how I would like to grow old gracefully, I am grateful to have been touched by outstanding examples like Emma, who has since died but is very much alive in my heart, and Miles. My wish and prayer to God is that I will become like them.

I am convinced we can choose, with God’s Spirit, how we would like to grow old—gracefully or by being cranky and demanding. We owe it to those we come in contact with to make their lives better by our kindness and doing all that we can.

As we age, it is important to give some thought and prayer to how we would like to be as a senior. By asking God to mold us as we gracefully grow older; we can be a very positive light to others around us. After all, I want people to enjoy being around me, not to groan at the thought of it.