Monday, August 18, 2008

This is Getting Old

“You know you're getting old when all the names in your black book have M. D. after them.” ~Harrison Ford

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” ~Isaiah 46:4

It’s happening.

I am officially falling apart.

No, I don’t mean psychologically, though I am certain a strong case could be made for that, as well. I mean physically. The other day one of my sixteen-year-old students said something about me being “older.” I don’t think she really meant it that way, but I couldn’t let her get off scot free. With a dead-pan expression on my face, I said, “You mean, older than dirt? “Oh no,” she replied with a smile. “You’re younger than dirt.” Gee, Crystina. Thanks a lot.

I do wonder how much of it is a mental thing, seeing as how the big 4-oh is looming a mere four months out on the horizon. But, you know how it is. (Okay, some of you know how it is. The rest of you can text message with Paige about us codgers you have no choice but to associate with.)

Wiry, gray hairs sprout up at your temples and eventually begin spreading like kudzu, snuffing the life out of every pigmented follicle they come in contact with.

After sitting in a comfortable chair (or any chair, for that matter) for thirty minutes, getting up requires two tries, a push off the arm rests, and a slow groan while your back and legs fuss at you for daring to straighten them out.

You no longer worry about the cat getting a hair ball from grooming himself, and start to become concerned that if he spends too much time on the bathroom floor, he might choke on yours instead.

Your feet ache walking barefoot inside when it’s cold outside.

After years of steady, regular rhythms, some of your natural processes seem to be trying to adopt the cadences of several different drum corps at once. Eventually they will get tired of trying to find the beat and just quit altogether, and you don’t know which to wish for.

Instead of eye shadow and body shimmer, your skin begins to be decorated by spots and dots, freckles and speckles, scratches and patches of various colors, shapes, sizes, and textures. You’re now taking recommendations for a good dermatologist.

You spend ten minutes looking for the sunglasses on your head, the keys in your pocket, and the reason you walked into this room in the first place.

You are frequently unable to access common files in the recesses of your brain. You know, the ones labeled “Names of Good Friends I’ve had for Years,” “My Address and Telephone Number,” and “Who is the Vice-President of the United States?”

Your eyesight fails, forcing you to grow Go-Go-Gadget Extend-a-arms just so you can read your various prescription bottles. (OK, those of you who know me well, stop rolling your eyes. Yes, I am blessed to still have 20/20 vision, but I expect it could go at any time. I’m just preparing myself …)

Several years ago, after much related experience with their own parents, my parents asked us kids to do them a favor. They told us, though perhaps not in these exact words, to make them just stop talking if they ever got to the point where their failing health issues were the focal point of most every conversation.

Fortunately, we have not yet had to put my parents out of their misery, as they have, for the most part, spared us the gory details of their physical deterioration. Sometimes to a fault, though, as we have found out many times after the fact about this procedure, that test, or the other worrisome situation.

I always wondered why God chose for Jesus to die at age 33. Is it some magic number? Was he in the prime of his human life? Would he have ‘fallen apart’ over the next few years? I mean all of this with the utmost respect; I am not trying to be trite at all. I seriously wondered when I turned 34 whether I was taking on some sort of additional responsibility or something. What were the implications of “outliving” Jesus?

I have no real answer to all of this. I am simply musing. But, I am encouraged by God’s promise to Isaiah quoted above: Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he … who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you, … sustain you and … rescue you.”

I have made you.

Wow. This body that always seems to have something irritated, healing, oozing, peeling, aching, scaling, wobbling, paling, struggling, sagging, tightening, dragging, stretching, dropping, straining, stopping – God designed it. He knows its capability and its limitations.

I will carry you. I will sustain you.

Even when my body is weak and aching, he will continue to support and uphold me. When I feel I can’t keep it going, he will sustain me. He doesn’t say he will always make the effects of growing older go away, but he promises to carry me through it.

I will rescue you.

He has rescued me from Hell, and he will ultimately rescue me from my body. As our pastor occasionally says (and I loosely paraphrase), “Some day you will come to my funeral and the preacher will talk about me being in that box, but don’t you believe it! The shell will be in the box, but the nut will be in heaven!”

I know we should care for our bodies, but when it’s all said and done, they are only tools - jars of clay that become cracked and broken with normal use. I can only hope that the implication of that breakage is that the Spirit seizes the opportunity to ooze out in greater and greater measure.


  1. Oh my gosh! It can't be that bad. You are only 39...don't try and scare us younger folks!


  2. Good Grief! I just can't have my daughter falling apart like this! It would seem to imply that I should be REALLY falling apart, and, of course, I'm in my prime! That's why you don't ever hear me complain! :-) I am SO glad to learn this verse in Isaiah - I don't remember ever reading it before. I got to church early last night and I watched all the "old" people come in (the younger folks don't come much on Sunday night). It's really sobering to see and contemplate the journey which I'm beginning. I must remember and claim the promise from Isaiah.

  3. Okay, Annie ... you caught me taking slight literary liberties there. My good friend is always telling me I tell her too much (she's trailing me by six years or so).

    And Mom, I like that you said, "the journey" you're "beginning." We'll save gas if we just ride together. Whaddaya say? :-D

  4. I told you I was told when you turn 40 it is not long until you get reading glasses. And when that time comes for you, I expect to see a picture of you in those spectacles!

  5. Girl, I feel your pain. Wait until you hit 42...BTW, don't worry about the eyesight going. I highly recommend lasik!

  6. I feel your pain, too. Especially when some college student called me "ma'am" at church the other day.

  7. Hey, I can text with Paige, but I make the CHOICE to associate with you. And as I told Genny when she hit this point, you don't look or act 40, so don't worry about it so much. I know, easy for me to say.

  8. My kids think I have a great magic trick: I pull my brown hair back at the bangs and it turns white, I'm only 38!!! Lynette


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