Getting Older

Don’t Celebrate Your Birthday – Unless, You’re A Kid

Ed, my neighbor next door, was griping the other day about being dragged to his aunt’s ninety-third birthday celebration. He said to me, “What is it with old people like you, that you cannot quit having birthday parties?” Apparently Ed’s Aunt Hilda and her long living sisters, Helga, Harriet, Hazel and Holly are forever having birthday parties. I asked Ed if he would be happier being dragged to their funerals. His answer was his observation that, after people reach seventy-five, they start wanting birthday celebrations as if they were little kids again.

I asked Ed to have some mercy on the older crowd. I warned Ed that when a person gets older they start talking to themselves more and enjoying it less. There is an increasing need to talk at people, and you have to throw a birthday party to get your relatives to come to see you. I said to Ed that he should mark my words for he’ll find getting older is limited fun. I told him that there will come a day when your knees will buckle, and your belt won’t. Your ears could become hairier than your head. Your pipes could leak, your bones could creak, or break and your knees could go bad. You will be asleep, but others worry that you’re dead. Don’t forget old age comes to everyone.

I wanted to share with Ed how old age is described in scripture, but he said that he had a birthday party to attend right away and left quickly. The twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes uses metaphors to describe how aging may be marked by the deterioration of health and strength. Aging is summed up in the words, “The years come when I find no pleasure in them.” It’s like an old house gradually crumbling over time. In old age, “The sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened.” This means a fading capacity for joy and excitement. For some older folks life is gloomy.

The writer of Ecclesiastes speaks of several conditions that can be common to the elderly. “The keepers of the house tremble.”This is a picture of arms and hands shaking and becoming feeble. The Bible says aging is when, “The strong men stoop.” It is the time when shoulders, legs, and back slump and knees buckle. It also says that the grinders cease because they are few which refers to the scarcity of teeth. Then there may also be vision loss described as, “The windows grow dim.” Dizziness is pictured as being afraid of high places. White hair is called, “The almond tree blossoms.” The halting walk of the elderly is pictured like the grasshopper dragging himself along in cold weather. Old age ends in death and is expressed in the phrase, “Going to his eternal home while mourners go about the streets.” This means a person dies and life goes on. Death is the returning of the body to the dust, but the spirit returns to God. God is the source of life now and eternally.

Ed believes old age is depressing, and that old age birthdays should be ignored. Ecclesiastes confirms that life is a gift from God at every age. The aged are right to celebrate every birthday God gives them.

 

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Raymond Maher
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