If Aging had an On/Off Switch

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I glanced at a TV documentary of medical research on children that don’t age normally. One little girl was six years old chronologically but lived in the body and mind of a six-month-old child. A boy who had lived forty years had the body and mind of a ten-year-old child. Doctors were doing research to somehow release these children from the tragedy of not aging normally.

I wish I had watched the program more closely so I could write about it with more accuracy. It wasn’t until it was over that I was struck with the thought that the only thing worse than aging normally is not aging normally.

We are bombarded daily with new miracle procedures to reverse aging. How many famous people are stepping out to reveal their secret for tightening wrinkled skin? My own bias is that my skin will stay wrinkled and even get more wrinkled no matter what I do to it. The most effective thing I have found is to dim the bathroom lights. I look younger when I am in dim light.

Then there are products that will specifically address each and every body function promising a return to youthful vigor.

But why is aging an enemy to those of us who are on the fast track toward old and a missing friend to the children who are not experiencing this journey?

What would happen if we were to welcome signs and symptoms of aging? What if our goal would be to look our chronological age and be proud when someone says the age you are is the age you look.

What if we were to be gentle with ourselves when we realize that it takes us longer to do some things now than it did a couple of decades ago?

What if the stiff knee is a wink from our Creator that our bodies are only designed for temporary use?

I am not advocating careless inattention to our bodies. They are gifts from God and a temple of the Holy Spirit. We need to invest in physical, emotional mental and spiritual health.

I am only wondering if we have agreed with out culture that tells us that older people are less attractive and less valuable.

If I had and On/Off button for my own aging I don’t think I would push it.

I hope to live a long healthy life. I hope as I take this journey that it will be obvious to my friends that as I am aging I am gaining both wisdom and wrinkles.

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One Thing I Know For Sure

 

 

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Is that I don’t want this dog.

I don’t like little dogs. I’m not even sure they are dogs. I like a dog like my first dog from when I grew up on a farm. He looked like a dog. He acted like a dog. His name was Shep. He looked like Lassie but shorter hair, as he was a Collie/German Shepherd mix. All dogs were mixes of something back then and there.

This is a little white furry thing that weighs about ten pounds. She doesn’t bark she just sort of yips. She’s called a Maltese and she has to go to a beautician to have a bath and a hair cut.

She is always about two inches from my feet so if I am walking I am stumbling over her and if I am sitting I find myself resting my feet on her.

She needs a home as she belonged to my friend who recently died. I am sorry as this little dog is the only one that was able to stay awake all night every night with my dying friend, but…

One thing I know is that I don’t want this dog.

Her eyes are always on me. Like, always on me. All I have to do is look at her and she wags her tail.

She loves being touched. She loves having my hand on her; either petting her or simply resting it on her is enough. She doesn’t need constant attention Twenty-five hours a day is enough for her.

One thing I know for sure is that I don’t want this dog.

She never messes in the house. She jumps up and down to let you know she has to go outside. Then she circles until the job is done. I wish I had known this when I worked as a nurse. Instead of enemas and Milk of Magnesia I could have had the old people spin in circles.

When I get my jacket for any reason at all she is thrilled. She thinks there is a chance I am taking her for a walk. If I say yes, she explodes with delight. If I say no she lays back down with a look of unmistakable sadness.

If I get up at night to go the bathroom she comes from the other end of the house to be with me.

One thing I know for sure is that I don’t want this dog.

As I write this, the thought crosses my mind, “Where is this dog now?” I look down and find her under my feet.

One thing I don’t know for sure is that don’t want this dog.

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Coffee with Memories and Tears

Two weeks from today I will be leaving a place that feels like home to me. Not because this is a city with which I have any familiarity. Not even because I have deep personal friendships here. But, because this is where my friend lived the last few months of her life.

This friend lived many places, moved often and never felt like she belonged anywhere. Yet, whether it was an RV, a log cabin, a suburban mansion, an apartment or a mobile home, she always had a room furnished and waiting for me. She knew me so well that my bed always had cotton sheets, the refrigerator had organic food, and there was easy access to sunscreen, a protective hat and a hiking stick. A bottle of Kendall- Jackson Merlot rested on the counter with a glass imprinted “Too blessed to be stressed”.

My friend never felt like she belonged anywhere but she always made me feel like I belonged in her space.

This morning as I drink my coffee my eyes wander around all this beautiful décor that I will walk away from in two weeks and leave in the hands of an estate sale agent. It’s not that I want or need the things. It’s that I am overwhelmed with the realization of how deeply I have been loved. And I am saddened that I will never again visit my friend on this earth.

She is not here. Her ashes are on a glass-topped table that is held up by an artists rendering of a human figure.

My heart was stirred this week by Viola Davis’ acceptance speech at the Oscars. As I listened to her I felt a deep bond though I know this is a woman I will never meet. As she spoke the words I have copied below I recognized that part of my grief is that my friend is one of these people Viola is referencing. This friend is one who had great potential, dreamed big but never saw her dreams come to fruition.

My grief is deepened by the reality that, even though I tried, I was powerless to bring any of her dreams to fruition.

Here is part of Viola Davis speech:

“There’s one place where all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place. And that’s the graveyard,”

 People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?”

 And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those stories to fruition. People who fell in love and lost.”

 “I became an artist and thank god I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life,”

 My friend was an artist too. She celebrated what it means to live life. She suffered the torment of broken dreams and in her words ”I am not designed for this world”.

I confess I would like to exhume her and make all her dreams come true. But that is not within my power.

I grieve as I think of leaving her home and the realization that I will never visit her again on earth. I grieve all her broken dreams, losses and pain.

Thankfully, I don’t grieve as one who has no hope, for my friend knew Jesus and someday we will be together in a place we both belong.

Until then, let’s join Viola in seeking empowerment for all the unknown people with big dreams and look with compassion on those who cannot find a place to belong.

 

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Exchanging My Gear

I went to the Outfitter with a list for what I would need for my new journey.

I needed a new backpack so I started out searching for the perfect one. Other than shoes, the backpack is the most important from my perspective.

Since I have traveled before, I didn’t ask for assistance from the service staff. I had already been measured and I knew what a good fit felt like. I was attracted to a backpack with an appealing color. I tried it on and it felt familiar. It had hidden pockets, an attached rain protector and adjustable straps that were easy to secure.

Feeling confident that I had found what I was looking for, proud I had found it so quickly, I then checked the label. I found a company whose brand name was GRIEF manufactured it.

Well, no one sees the brand name so I’m not going to be bothered by that little stitched on label.

I decided to walk around the store sporting my new backpack and making sure there were no pressure points.

Inadvertently, I caught the eye of an outfitter who was keenly observing my intended purchase and me.

Knowing I was not asking for help, the encounter was begun with some gentle questions. He asked about my intended adventure, terrain, distance, and climate…as we talked, I recognized that I had met this outfitter before. He acknowledged the same and then offered some observations.

“Your posture has changed significantly since we outfitted you for your last journey. May I suggest you try a different brand today?”

Not wanting to offend, I agreed.

It would be hard to exaggerate my delight as I slipped into the gear this outfitter recommended. Finding it so comfortable, I slipped it off and looked for the label.

The brand name was GRATITUDE.

 

 

 

 

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Was I Supposed to Feed Him

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Twenty-five years ago I married my husband.

This year in a marriage often prompts a public celebration, but we are choosing to just be the two of us. This is mostly because my husband has had both a stroke and a heart valve replacement. He does quite well in a one to one conversation but he is not able to follow conversation that takes place in a group.

Therefore, we are downsizing from the (literally) thousand people who attended our wedding to a private dinner. (That large number at the wedding happened because we were both pastors at a large church and we simply invited people through the church bulletin).

So, how do you celebrate when you are the only one with memory?

Or am I the only one who thinks I have a memory?

As I reflect on our marriage vow I am thankful to say that I have been faithful to the obvious intentions of this vow.

Yet, our recent medical appointment has prompted me to think about something not so specifically implied.

My husband’s doctor told him this week that if he were to lose anymore weight he would compromise his immune system and start to look old.

I remember when we were first married going with my husband to his doctor and hearing that he needed to get control of his weight. He needed to lose weight.

How did he go from someone who weighed too much to someone who weighed too little?

I wonder if, as his wife, I was supposed to feed him.

 

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Because He Loves Them

I know of a young man who is coming to Wisconsin from Houston for Christmas. When he married his beautiful young wife, almost three years ago, he was blessed with two delightful children, as well. The boy is now nine and the girl is seven. My observation of this man, of whom I write, is that he treats these children as his own.

After spending Christmas in Houston, as a family, he is bringing his children to Wisconsin during their break from school. His wife, the children’s mother, is staying in Houston because of her work schedule.

I’ve learned that the children are very excited to come. Our weather has done its best to provide a welcome with deep snow and freezing temperatures. I, too, am excited, eager to see the sparkle in the children’s eyes as they take in the wonder of our blanket of white.

Since Waukesha is the father’s home, I have not been surprised by the things he is planning to do with the children while here.

What did surprise me was that on the day they fly out of O’Hare he wants to leave early and show the children Chicago.

Why, I asked myself, would he choose the challenges of Chicago? (I must admit that I avoid Chicago when I can). But then, I am forgetting that Chicago is an exciting place for those who have never been. There are stunning sites for this father figure to show his children. There are memories to be made. After the day in Chicago the children will know him better, know his story, know his ways.

Yet, maybe there is another answer. Maybe, as a father, he is choosing to show his children Chicago simply because he loves them.

I wonder what adventure my heavenly Father has in store for me?

I wonder if I could bring Him joy by welcoming my upcoming season with the heart of a child.

Maybe the plans He has for me are simply because He loves me.

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The Advantage of Distance

I am in a motel room with a view overlooking the city.

Last night I watched as the sun went down and the city lights came up.

Every house in this sprawling city has a story tonight. For those in crisis, nothing exists beyond the four walls of their home.

But, with the advantage of distance, each home is but one piece of a bigger puzzle.

God sees both the puzzle and the piece.

 

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