Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Fruitful Old Age

We are blessed to live on a (semi) quiet road that is populated by at least 50% older folks. (By older, I mean "grandparent age.") There are some younger families or couples at either end of the road, but our house is smack in the middle of the road, where most of the older generation lives. We like that.

One exception to the "young folks at the end of the road" rule is the second-oldest lady here, who lives on one end of the road. (The oldest is 101 years old.) This woman is a widow, and lives alone, but despite her apparent age and limitations, she is one of the most active older folks I know. She has a small garden, on a very sloped yard, and you can spot her stooped over there 'most any cool summer morning, wearing a hat, holding her cane in one hand, and pulling up weeds and staking tomatoes with the other. She loves to sit on her front porch, on her very green, very vintage, metal porch furniture, and she is often seen waiting there for a friend to pick her up so they can go out and do something together (shopping, church, etc.). I've stopped on that front porch and sat on the cement step before, chatting a bit, and discovered that her mind is still sharp and her hearing not bad at all for a lady her age.  

She's different from the other older folks on our road. Some of them are much younger than her, and they are still active in small ways, like planting flowers in the yard or going out with friends. But those who are in her age bracket don't seem to get out of the house much. Or even do much in the house. Some of them are hard-of-hearing, and their life seems to revolve around watching other folks live.

We have good relationships with several of the older folks. A couple of them are Christians (I think the lady I talked about above is). Most are not. We sometimes Christmas carol, sometimes take them Valentine cards, and sometimes share garden produce, and try to win a way to their hearts so that we can witness to them.

So I've been into many of their homes. And you know something I've noticed? Almost all of them play the TV ...a lot. It's just the thing to do when you live alone and want some noise in the house, I guess.

That's why I stared so hard when the gloomy weather today allowed my to see right through this lady's clean window into her lamp-lit living room early this morning while I was walking my dog. I saw something there that took me by surprise, and yet shouldn't have surprised me at all. I think I've discovered her secret.

She was reading.

She sat on a comfy-looking couch, in a spotless living room, with a side lamp pouring light over her shoulder, and she was reading. I couldn't see what kind of book it was - only that it was black-and-white print, so it wasn't a magazine. Was it her Bible? Another book? Don't know. But she was reading.

That early morning living room looked so peaceful. So quiet.

I think I know now why she is so independent, and still has a sharp mind, and still gets out in her garden every summer. She hasn't succumbed to letting life go by, and settled down to just watching other people live. She hasn't finished living her own life yet!

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