I learned a valuable lesson on aging this week. We ran into two elderly women that we know well. They’ve both lived long productive lives, well into their seventh and eighth decades. They have also faced their share of ups and downs, highs and lows, births and deaths and everything else in between.
The first women told my wife and I about the medical issues that she’s been fighting since September. We asked about her son and daughter and she complained that they hadn’t visited her in weeks. I tried to change the subject and talk about how bright and colorful the spring flowers have been. She said she was glad Spring had come, but complained how the pollen bothers her.
My wife and I sensed that she needed a break so we offered to take her out for lunch, but she turned down the offer, saying that her allergies would just act up and she wouldn’t enjoy it.
The second woman carried a cane with her — the first that we had seen her with one — but couldn’t stop talking about her daughter and how excited she was to be seeing her in a few weeks. I asked about the cane. I thought she might be depressed.
“Oh this thing, it’s just something I need it to get around now,” she said. “But tell me about you guys. What’s new?”
I said I felt bad for her that she now needed the cane. She didn’t fall for the bait. She didn’t want to talk about it. When I brought it up, she brought the conversation back to my wife and I. She wanted to talk about her kids, our kids, what we were doing for the weekend. She had no time for the negative.
I found the two conversations enlightening: two women, two very different philosophies on life. One excited about the future, one focused more on life’s aches and pains. I certainly do not mean to diminish the aches and pains that come with old age. Getting older comes with its share of challenges. However, as I’ve started to age myself, I’ve come to see that your approach makes a big difference.
Live in the here and now and focus on the negative or live excited for the future and full of faith in what God has in store. Yes, I know it’s a challenge, but I definitely know which path I hope to choose when I’m older.