Meandering Thoughts On Getting Old(er)

At 49 years old, I’m on the brink of becoming an old codger.

I remember when I was a boy, my mother wrapped my lunch sandwiches in wax paper. Baggies were yet to be invented. Then came zip lock bags. We didn’t have plastic trash bags then either. But I do remember Tupperware. And my school lunch box was all metal. So that gives you an idea of how old 49 is.

I remember when I was a lot thinner too. I weighed 145 pounds when I got married almost 27 years ago. I’ve got a good 35 pounds more on me now. A couple years ago, I had to get bifocals. I can’t help but notice that my physical stamina is slowly but surely declining. I am healthy but my body suffers from little aches and pains. It does not heal so quickly. My lower back has become a concern to me in recent years. It is, I suppose, the normal rate of decline for a modern man, even one who is careful about what he eats and does not have any unhealthy habits.

It's difficult to grow old and realize you probably have less time ahead of you than you have behind. It's difficult to grow old when you still have a mind chock full of ideas and projects, most of which require physical effort. It's difficult to grow old and see time pass so quickly.

Everything takes longer to do and get done when you are older. So, to compensate, you get stubborn, and even a bit crotchety.

But, while my physical ability wanes, my wisdom and humility grows. That is not to say that I am especially wise or humble now. Only that I am more so compared to my younger days. It’s a relative thing.

With the onset of wisdom and humility, I find myself more spiritually aware, more spiritually inclined, and more cognizant of the various realities I find myself in.

The reality of death looms ahead. Hardly a day passes that I do not consider my earthly end. I wonder how it will play out. It’s not a morbid fascination or an unhealthy preoccupation. It’s just an awareness, and an acceptance.

There is the curiosity factor too. Will Marlene and I grow old gracefully? Will we be in good enough health to know our grandchildren and bless them with our time and attention? Will we even have any grandchildren? How many?

Will a heart attack usher me into eternity, as I suspect will be the case? Or will it be another physical malady, or maybe an accident? Things rarely happen in life the way I think they will. God usually has other plans. He doesn’t consult with me.

Will I die before Marlene, or will she go first? The selfish me thinks I would prefer myself to go first. The man in me desires to be able to care for my wife until she is called home. Then I'll get my turn.

I’ve been a Christian since I was in Jr. High School. From then to now, I’ve never strayed far from my core beliefs. But as I’ve become older, my Christian faith has become considerably more central to my life. It is more dear and important than ever before.

My Christian faith explains life, decline, suffering, death, and eternity. It explains the origins of man and my purpose for being. I do not understand these things fully. But I understand them sufficiently. I understand that God is sovereign and I am not.

I understand something of God’s grace and His mercy. I know the peace and transformation that comes when a heart is surrendered to Jesus Christ. I know that this act opens the door to greater understanding, greater clarity, and the ability to better deal with the difficulties of life. I know that knowing Him brings a great and comforting hope.

I guess the point of this meandering post is that the process of aging is always difficult to deal with, but it needn’t be depressing. Because there is always Hope.

I trust in that Hope more than science, or government, or the medical profession, or education, or philosophy’s, or any person, or any thing that fallen men can create or conceive of their own accord.

And I hope you will too.


The picture below is of yours truly. The Lovely Marlene snapped this photo three days ago. I am working at the kitchen table on my soon-to-be-published book. Specifically, I am tracing final drawings onto one of the book’s pages using a light box. A younger person would say I'm doing it the hard way. Computers will do that, you know? Yeah, I know.

You can see my glasses are on the table. This book is the first one I’ve illustrated where I must take off my glasses and position my eyes very close to my work in order to see it well.

This sight of me working on my book at the kitchen table is a very familiar one to my family. I’ve spent many hours there the past few months. "Don’t jiggle the table," I bark when anyone gets near.

Yes indeed, I'm an old codger in the making.

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Marci said...

This is a good post, Herrick. Michael and I have been contemplating many of the same things. Praise the Lord there IS hope and He is hope!!!

Ethan said...

My wife's grandfather is closing in on 100. You never know, you may only be halfway home.

My grandfather's brother lived along East Lake Road not far from you. He was still ripping apart his tractor in his 80's. The work took a long time and he always had an array of levers and contraptions to help, usually made out of whatever was laying around, but somehow he managed.

When is does the garlic powder come in? I am ready to order a batch!

Goodolboy said...

Good morning Herrick, Sandwichs wrapped in wax paper, metal lunch boxes. Man ya brought back some memories. We are the same age and weight (beleive it or not) and it sounds like we are goin through some of the same things. Remember Tang orange drink. Terrible stuff.
Take care.

Granny Miller said...

Herrick -
I think about the same things everyday.
Page Smith's OLD AGE IS ANOTHER COUNTRY is a good read.

Emily said...

Hi Herrick! I could have written much of your post myself. I'll also be your age in a few more months....far from the same weight, though! :) I remember the wax paper and metal lunchbox (mine was plaid to match my favorite skirt - back when girls wore ONLY dresses to school, no slacks or jeans). Our pastor was over for a visit the other day (he's around our age) and we were commiserating a bit about the physical changes that come as one ages. He shared that he often consoles his elderly friends to whom he ministers at a local nursing home by telling them that their aches and pains are the Lord's way of weaning them away from this life. I'm so glad I have that same expectant hope.

Lynn said...

Hi Herrick,
The boys and I just returned from 3 days in our old city. We drove down to help our former neighbor celebrate her 100th birthday. She is still living alone in her apartment across the street from where we used to live, and is healthier than my parents. (She quit driving when she was 90.) She also has a better memory than I do! She says the secret to staying young is not to worry, but learn to accept things as they come. She has always been a role model for me, and we dearly love her.

I guess since I'm a year older than you I must be an old codger myself! And it does work wonders these days to take off my glasses to read!

Herrick Kimball said...

Thank you everyone for your comments here.

Ethan... I've known old timers like your grandfather's brother. With spring here, my garlic bulbs are starting to take off. And they like the wet weather we're now getting. Powder is a long way off. Probably October or November. I'll post here about it. Thanks for asking.

Goololboy... I remember Tang. It was supposed to be a product of the space program, right?. Official drink of the astronots (yes, I know I spelled that wrong). NASA spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to go to the moon and Mars and beyond, but it's worth it because we end up with new industrialized products that are a boon to mankind.... like TANG.

emily... What a cooincidence. I had a red plaid lunch box. Was yours red too? I think your pastor is right.

lynn... Your 100 year old friend has some wise advice. Don't worry is akin to don't get stressed out. And stress sure is a problem in the industrialized world. I see it to the extreme among many of my coworkers. And when I experience stress myself, it is almost entirely as a result of my non-agrarian day job. Then again, if I didn't have a way of adequately supporting my family, that would also be stressful, and I've experienced that too.

Then there is working in the garden. For me, that is physically hard but not stressful at all. From that, I conclude that I should spend more time in the garden.

And Lynn, I don't know you but I'm sure you're not an old codger. :-)