Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Forgotten But Not Gone


Psalm 71:9
Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.

My grandfathers are both deceased and my grandmothers are now elderly widows. It ain’t easy bein’ elderly.
Oh, there are some folks who grow old embracing the “golden years” playing canasta and sitting around a rec room somewhere singing “Jimmy Crack Corn” with other fun-loving oldsters. God bless ‘em.
But there’s another side to aging that isn’t quite so twenty two skidoo. I think maybe it’s the real side for the majority of people living out their final years.
With age comes declining health and strength. The shocking moment when one realizes they can’t do the simple tasks they once did with ease. There’s the newly identified health problems that sneak up to steal away the body that used to be.
Sometimes the person can’t drive anymore because their reflexes are slowed, their sight is dimmed or they just can’t seem to remember the simple routes they used to travel by instinct.
Grocery bags are too heavy. People talk too fast and conversation is hard to keep track of.
The familiar faces of a lifetime become fewer as they become the last living siblings, the surviving spouse, the only one of the old gang who hasn’t passed away.
Children become parents and grandparents. Grandchildren get jobs and have families. As the life of the older person becomes less and less scheduled; the lives of everyone around them becomes busier and busier. It’s no mystery why they spend so much time alone.
The elderly aren’t intentionally pushed to the side. This grand society we’ve created demands so much time of the able-bodied, there’s little left for the ones with nothing but time on their hands.
Speaking of society, it’s not elder-friendly. Simple phone calls can be overwhelming as the person tries to listen hard to figure out which number to press for assistance. One phone number used to be sufficient to reach out to family but now they are inundated with work numbers, cell phone numbers, home numbers...
It all so hard.
The psalmist was calling out to God, “Don’t cast me away when I am old, do not forsake me when my strength is gone.”
But I feel that the elderly are calling out to us, “Don’t forget I’m still here. Don’t ignore me when I can’t do the things I used to do, when I can’t be the person I used to be.”
I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I guess I’ve examined my own heart and found it lacking in this area. Those liver-spotted arthritic hands have changed my diapers, pressed much-needed money into my hands and lovingly prepared my favorite foods for all of my years. I’m not doing a good job at loving them into eternity.
I need you guys to pray for me and pray for the elderly people living out their days in empty houses, with weakened bodies and confused minds.
I don’t want to forget, God don’t let me forsake them.
Be with them God, when we fail.

6 comments:

Becky said...

amen

KayMac said...

Awesome post. One of my degrees was in Gerontology..study of aging. You are right, one of our best resources is untapped...all around us...unrecognized. On a personal note, I am at the right before stage...finding that I am weaker and less quick. Lots to thing about from your post.

Deb said...

This is a great post Sara.

Our church has a weekly ministry to one of our local nursing homes. I have only been able to attend once or twice and found that I am always at a loss as to how best to "love them into eternity". It is emotionally difficult for me to see these wonderful people living out their lives - dealing with all the physical and mental ailments that come with age - knowing that once they were vibrant and full of life.

My current project is helping to crochet dozens of lap robes to give them as gifts for Christmas. It's so much easier for me to not be there face to face but to be in the background.

I don't like that about me.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

Birmingham Girl said...

Since I've been caring for your grandma, I've started to see things through different eyes. I guess since I'm not that far from it, I'm seeing myself at her age. The other night when I stayed there and she covered me with blankets in the middle of the night, I knew it felt so good to her to feel like she was needed. We all have that inner longing, no matter what the age. I'm ashamed that somehow I forgot that. It must be terrible to feel that you have no purpose, but instead are only a burden.

dawnaj1958 said...

The hardest part of caring for elderly is seeing yourself in them. Thank you for your honesty. I think we all have a fear of becoming needy. I cna't bear to think of my children having to change and bathe me. I can't bear the thought of someday having to do that to my independent, intelligent, energetic 73 year old mother. It scares me. I don't know how I'll put on a "happy face" and not show the heartbreak.

MSUgal86 said...

i almost did not leave a comment on this because I am in complete denial about ever losing my mom but thank you for this post.