The priceless gift of living long enough to be called a “senior” is a blessing to be cherished. The biggest shock is how quickly this senior title arrives in our lives. My neighbor had a mantle clock with two Latin words inscribed on the face of the clock: “Tempus Fugit” (Time Flies). At that time, I was a 21-year-old junior in college, and he was about seventy. He leaned forward in his rocking chair cogitating and said, “The ideal person could be a person with a 21-year-old body with a 71-year-old head.” He also told me to set goals, which I didn’t think of again until I had a professor who said to set goals, as well. My professor said, “Too many people aim at nothing and hit it magnificently.”
My life has been graciously blessed with caring senior family members and friends. Their powerful supportive influence formed many of my beliefs. My grandfather referred to his contemporaries as “old men” and “old women,” refusing to own the fact that he was much older than they. (On some occasions, I find myself doing the same.) He seemed so old with snow white hair, overalls, brogans and bruised hands and arms. He showed me his arms and hands and said to me, “This comes with old age.” It seemed so far-fetched. Now I am looking at my bruised arms and hands wearing two Band-aids and reflecting on his words.
Life for me has been generously accompanied by fellow pilgrims encouraging and supporting me. Every stage in life should be embraced with dreams and always valued. I served in the pastoral ministry for over thirty years. In 1999, at age 55, my life took a serendipitous turn—I was selected to be the Staff Chaplain of the Children’s Hospital at GHS which is now Prisma. My heroes and mentors had before consisted of seniors. The patients who were children then became my heroes and mentors until my retirement. They taught me bravery, courage, patience, optimism, hope and most of all, unconditional love.
Mark Twain proclaimed, “Age is an issue of mind over matter! If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”