Do you see what happens?

Old Age. What scares you about growing old?

I have several friends who are going through really tough times. As we age there are some things that you don’t expect. We all picture growing old gracefully and walking off into the sunset together. It’s sad, but for most of us this is not the case. Many things can happen that change your world. They sneak up on us and suddenly you are in a foreign country trying to learn to speak the language and find your way through a maze.

I think one of the hardest things is when one person is well and the other is not. When I was young I never thought what it would be like to have to care for someone. What it would be like to be on call 24/7. Never to be able to go out for a meal or visit with friends.

Caregiving is one of the most stressful tasks on this earth.  What if you are afraid to leave home because your spouse may fall while you are gone? What if the dependence of that person on you grows obsessive and you have to account for any moment away? What if every time you walk away to another room you are called again and again to come back. The person  you love has turned into a demanding attention seeker. They have not done this deliberately but fear inhabits them and being alone triggers terrible anxiety. They did not choose this path. It was foisted upon them. Age happened.

supportWhen we are young we never see the anguish that can be aging. We can see all of this as a burden for us and turn away. Yet simple things can make a difference. Volunteering to visit for an hour or two while the caregiver gets out. Making a double recipe for dinner for your family and sharing it. Even words of understanding and encouragement can help.

While we are young we need to show compassion for those whose life is in crisis. In order to do that we first have to notice. The elderly can so often be ignored.

I have long been fond of this poem by Ogden Nash. It shows us how we are blind to those who are aged.

People expect old men to die, 
They do not really mourn old men. 
Old men are different. People look 
At them with eyes that wonder when… 
People watch with unshocked eyes; 
But the old men know when an old man dies. 

Be Watchful


This week the news (as usual) is alarming. I have been thinking about those Islamic radicals who are living in so many western style countries and I have been concerned about what I am beginning to see as a pattern. I am someone who tends to believe the best of people and I don’t like having to think otherwise. When I consider how the Nazi regime managed to change the moral compass of a nation it is easy to see that it could be done again. For me, it brings to mind a poem by a poet know for his limericks. That poet is Ogden Nash. Many of his poems are lighthearted and just fun but there are quite a few that force us to confront uncomfortable issues. This poem was written in 1938 just before the war. The insight it provides about how to change ideas and ethics is frightening. When I see radical Muslims demanding Sharia Law and eroding the legal systems of my world I can’t not be scared. Eroding away inch by inch is easier than going to war. Here is the poem for your contemplation.

Ogden Nash

The Japanese (1938)

How courteous is the Japanese;
He always says, “Excuse it, please.”
He climbs into his neighbor’s garden,
And smiles, and says, “I beg your pardon”;
He bows and grins a friendly grin,
And calls his hungry family in;
He grins, and bows a friendly bow;
“So sorry, this my garden now.”

Except for the above anxiety is momentarily at rest. The trigger has (for now) sent it away. That doesn’t mean that it won’t arise another time. I am struggling to continue my plans for change. When the fear is past it is so easy to slip back into complacency. For those of us who have God in our lives it is typical to let our connection fade when it is not needed. Discipline is so difficult.  I will continue to persevere no matter how difficult. I am determined not to let myself back up now.