Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Hope and Joy of Old Age

Old Age Ain't For Sissies! ~ Do Not Resent Growing Old... Many Are Denied The Privilege.

This is the strap line for the eminent and wonderful blog offered by The Old Geezer.  I read it awhile ago and it has haunted me ever since. It is a simple statement of the obvious - though it is only obvious when it has been stated, if you catch my drift. 

I live with a list of people who were close to me and who died 'young' - and among that number my father (who never reached the age that I have), my wife's two best friends (both of whom died in their teens), at least three school peers and others around the periphery of my life who are nonetheless important and worthy of passing mention. Too many youngsters reach the end of their lives before those lives have been tested by the normal expectations of time. We utter platitudes about 'quality over quantity', age not being important, love being the only thing that counts, blah blah blah. Tell any of that the mother of a teenager who has just succumbed to Hodgkin's Disease. You may find yourself the proud owner of a dented wind-pipe. 

This is all compounded by the fact that, after my father died so young, my mother met and married a man considerably older than she - more than 30 years older. My dad has now died, having done so far too soon but at a good age in his eighties - and a sainted hero to me he will always remain. 

Anyway - the thing is this, we live in an age where age is derided. We put our 'elderly' in safe places and then often leave them to it, complaining about their unreasonable demands for more than a passing visit once a month. Children's telly programs paint elderly people as dotty flat-cap wearers who are to be patronised like benevolent centenarians. We slap goo on our faces in the effort to pretend to the world that we are not in fact aging, heaven forfend. We paint more goo on our faces to hide lines - often the lines that frame a kindly wise face, if only we took courage. We do the 'Cheltenham' thing of dressing a decade younger than we actually are (trust me, it is the case in Cheltenham). In summary, we hold on to the fervent need to not want to get old - like age is a curse, a malevolent stalker who will 'get you in the end'.

Age is not a failure. Age is not a fading into irrelevence. Age is not a reason to be ignored or overlooked. Churches are also guilty of this too - how many funky Youthies work day and night to provide for the kids that they are chasing? In church life, we seek new blood and young blood like bloodhounds, and we often overlook what we politely term 'loyal pew fodder' - in other words, the older members of our community, often the most loyal, regularly the most frequently disregarded. Actually, when (if) I am an incumbent, I will pursue toddlers and dodderers. Both are God granted gifts of age. Let the church up the road bust a gut over the teenies and the yummies! Hurrah! My church will be full, mate!

As Geezer says, older age is a priviledged gift. It is not a right, it is not inevitable. I wonder if, given the chance at life, my young friends and father would embrace old age like the Spanish embraced the World Cup trophy: as hard fought, deserved, a blessed gift - thankfully.


  1. Just for a moment I thought you'd posted your most recent self-portrait - great photo to illustrate privilege of reaching old age and some good food for thought here. By the way, how many decades do you need to be 'old' from your youngish blokish perspective?

  2. Now then - I look far worse than this picture these days.

    From the perspective of a greying 38yr old? 'Old' constitutes anyone Lesley's age or greater! Har de Har Har!

    Thanks for the comment though, appreciated!

  3. And there was me thinking that I was still young - cos that's what the congregation call me!

  4. Respect at last!

    You're not wrong, though. Each Sunday I look out over the grey heads of over 200 mostly OAPs but everyone is constantly muttering about 'doing something for the children'. Meanwhile, no-one wants to carry on running the OAP club since its nonagenarian leader decided to take in a bit of eternal rest.

    But you know the best bit about the age I have just reached? They give you money to do nothing. (Not a lot, but money nevertheless!)



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