Do you remember your grandparents? What were they like? I remember my mothers, mother – going to see her as a very young child when my mother would help her with the housework and ironing. I must have been very young but I remember her grey hair and wrinkled hands and quietness. I do not know when she died but I must ask my mother about that.
Perhaps you have ageing parents? Isn’t it surprising how we take our parents for granted? Once upon a time they would and could do anything – and then suddenly- without any warning they look and act so old. We glimpse their limitations and their frailty. Our perspectives on age and growing older are shaped by these small fragments of our life story. These perspectives and attitudes are shaped by our experience of older people and especially those close to us. In the seeing of age in others we might ask ourselves what it is that they represent for us. We look at our parents and wonder if we are becoming like them as we grow and move and change.
The way we age is shaped by other factors and here are some of them. The list challenges you to go deeper into the geography of your life and perhaps even look at neglected parts of your map.
The way we age is shaped by our personality and particularly our vices and virtues. Our failings are just as loveable as our strengths and perhaps more so! These characteristics influence what we come to see as important in our lives – what become our passions and cherished beliefs. These values shape our choices and decisions. What kind of people do we wish to be and become by how we live, how we spend our money, how we vote and what we do for play?
What happens to us in life can rarely be controlled but our attitude to what happens is entirely within our control. We need courage and honesty to face up to the inevitable range of adversities that have and will beset us. Hardship forms us like clay in a potter hands. It can make or break and remake us.
In this adventure relationships shape the way we age – those who listen to us and those who refuse to listen to us. Perhaps the most transformative experience in life is that of someone asking us ‘How are you’ and then having the time to listen to our long reply!
None of us are gifted with constant positivity. We get angry. We find some things in life loathsome and we want to fight against them. We way we age depends upon our decision to make a stand and to want to make a difference. As well as our battles we will want to honour and respect and uphold all that is good and true. We all want to make our world a better place where goodness is the foundation of life. We have the opportunity to realize how much of a gift this life really is and how the more we put in then the greater is our reward. With this purpose we can make a difference to those around us and especially to our community. Who knows how far their influence can reach with the little things of life that we do?
I remember a person telling me that their doctor had told her that she had a weak heart and that this would mean she would not enjoy old age. That woman had the tenderest heart I have ever come across. Our tender hearts shape the way we age. Hearts that can nurture the ability to live in the present place: this day, this home and in this bedroom. Today is all any of us ever have? Let us use it to know our power; a power beyond all of us to change and grow and be enlightened. We can celebrate all these things that are so pregnant with possibility.
This is our life and our ageing. We need to take responsibility for it. The time I have today is mine and I should always relish it as beautiful.
And for those who are approaching the sunset whenever that may come, we who watch with you will remember that when you say you are tired it doesn’y mean that you are lazy – and every goodbye is not the end.