So this week my car’s annual inspection was due. This never takes long and I brought a good book for my wait. I’d not read a full chapter when I heard someone whispering my name which was strange because whenever my car is serviced they holler my name like an assembly line. So I turned and said “That’s me,” and a young man turned and gingerly walked toward me.
Uh oh. Car failure? No. He smiled sweetly, leaning in very close like they do at nursing homes when they ask the residents what they want for lunch and said quietly, ” I understand you’d like to discuss a new car?”
I remembered someone calling the day before to let me know I’d be given some literature and they’d like to discuss this even though I’d declined this offer then, too. “I think I’ll keep this one a while longer.”
He smiled, nodded and disappeared.
Somehow when there is an apparent vast age difference the older person is either treated as though they might break or are impossibly hard of hearing and difficult to deal with. I remember my dad, well into his 80s, ordering a pizza for my son when we visited one day.
I have no idea what the delivery guy said to Dad but it threw him into a rage and I came running when I heard my father yelling at this kid who was totally unaware of what he’d done or said to set Dad off like that.
So I begin to understand why that happened. We are not old! Our bodies do not in any way reflect who we are. I understand there are many who, though young at heart and mind do not appreciate who they see when they look in a mirror. Looks change. Metabolism changes. Science tells us incessantly how our bodies stop or start doing certain things “due to advancing years”. Botox, body sculpting, face lifts, plastic surgery. Who wants to look like a Barbie doll at the age of 63?
Yet we have younger people who see old people, not who our minds are or our hearts, but the effects of aging. They see grey hair, wrinkled brows, thin, dry skin on arms
and hands, age spots. They see watery eyes, baggy necks, slower pace.
But they don’t see wisdom. Understanding. Grace and patience that come from pushing hard through life, hitting walls, breaking them down, productive, fruitful years.
So rather than go off like a cannon as my Dad did I smile. I thank God that I have made it to a point in life I only saw before from the outside. I understand one day this young man will see through the looking glass from the other side.
I only hope he can appreciate what it took to get there.
“Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.” –Psalm 39:4