It is a wonderful privilege to grow old. I am approaching my 72nd birthday. It will be in two months’ time and I am amazed when I think about all those years. I say that it is a privilege to grow old because it is something denied so many.
I find it somewhat distressing when I hear of so many who don’t reach their 70s, or 60s or even 50s. It is also so sad when people of much younger years die before even reaching middle age. While it is tragic when illness takes a young life, it is equally tragic when it is caused by an accident. This year there have been so many deaths in Australia as a result of car accidents, for example.
One of the interesting aspects of ageing that I didn’t expect concerns my mental state. For more than a decade I have observed that I don’t mentally feel my age at all. This attitude changes periodically when I try to do some hard physical work such as gardening. Then I really do feel my age! And the resulting aches and pains are constant reminders that I need to take physical activity in smaller doses.
Another interesting aspect of my personal ageing is my appearance. It seems that I have always been blessed with a youthful appearance. Over recent decades, various people have estimated my age to be ten or more years younger than my actual age. That’s a nice thing to tell me. Only yesterday while chatting with my eight-year-old granddaughter, she said that I do not look like I am nearly 72. Bless her little heart.
Teaching young children
I think that having a younger mental attitude comes from spending 35 of those years teaching young children, mostly those in the 6 to 10-year-old bracket. Now in retirement, I have regular contact with my grandchildren – ages 8 and nearly 11 – and this also helps to keep me mentally young.
I am writing this while I am staying with my son and his family. Over the last two Sunday afternoons, I have also had the privilege of taking my grandchildren to a nearby playground for a few hours. They have ridden their bikes while I drove my car; it’s too far for me to walk. Interacting with them as they play and invent games and challenges on the playground equipment is so stimulating to both the children and me.
Even when we don’t go anywhere, we often spend time in their backyard. They have an old, gnarled mulberry tree which they invent adventures while climbing. They both have very fertile imaginations. They also play other games, especially while on their much-used trampoline. Watching them play, and interacting with them during their playtimes is deeply satisfying to me. Once again I realise that these privileges afforded to grandparents is a delight denied so many people. I especially feel for those who may be estranged from ever spending time with grandchildren. Or those with no prospect of having grandchildren.
Challenges of ageing
However, old age does have its many challenges. All those aches and pains, regular doctor and specialist appointments, far too many tablets to take and a general slowing down in physical activities are the downside. I prefer to look at the many delights and privileges of growing old.
I would love to hear from my readers in the comments section about your delights and challenges of ageing.
Life can get very hectic at times.
That is true for many people, me included. Although I retired from classroom teaching just over 12 years ago, I seem to be as busy as ever. Not only am I trying to establish myself as a blogger and writer, I also have many community responsibilities, especially within the life of the church we attend. Still, it is a lifestyle I have deliberately chosen, so I shouldn’t complain.
At least once, preferably twice annually, my wife and I plan a few weeks into our busy schedule to travel to Sydney to visit and stay with family. Our son and his family live there and we love spending time with our grandchildren, ages 7 and 4. It is during these times that I set aside extra time to spend with family, especially the children. While I am totally dedicated to my life as a writer, I realise that the times spent with the grandchildren are some of the sweetest moments in one’s life.
Both of our grandchildren are at the stage in life where they love cuddles with both sets of grandparents. We try to ‘visit’ frequently via Skype and through telephone calls, but you cannot give a hug or cuddle over the phone or the internet. That is why they love having us visit for an extended time. This time it will be a day short of four weeks. That’s great.
And only a few nights ago I was sitting on the couch watching a video with the children. Both were snuggled up to me. The youngest held my fingers in her little hand. The oldest was leaning against my shoulder. ‘How wonderful is this,’ I thought, smiling inwardly. Sweet moments like this do not come along every day, especially when we live over 1300km away – two days’ hard drive.
While both of our grandchildren struggle from time to time with life’s issues, sometimes resulting in emotional melt-downs, these are far outweighed by the precious moments in each day. These are the sweet moments that should be a part of every child’s life. These are the delightful times of pure joy which should be in everyone’s lives. These are the times when a shared experience, a moment of laughter, a sharing of a song or the relating of the day’s highlight which can bring sheer contentment.
Treasure those moments
These special moments must be shared and treasured.
They can sometimes be so fleeting, so transient.
They are moments denied so many people in this world of ours.
Try to look for life’s wonderful blessings, those precious and sweet moments in life.