Friday, July 18, 2014

Birthday candles

Source: Baking Arts, Richard Festen, via Pinterest
When I was young I spent my entire birthday month counting down the days until it was my party day. On that special day my mom would organize and run a celebration just for me. On this much anticipated occasion, I'd shimmy my newly bathed body into tights and a party dress. I would tolerate a head of plastic rollers, their insides bristling against my scalp like a wire brush to the skin. I didn't mind these sacrifices, because my birthday was a big day. I would wear my new age like a badge, with pride and shiny new excitement, often wishing there was just one more candle on the cake, one more year of growth to celebrate.

Nowadays, I look forward to birthdays because they issue a well deserved excuse to go to a fancy restaurant, sip a cosmo, and savor a piece of carrot cake. But I don't wish for extra candles on my cake. Instead, I try not to think too much about how they won't all quite fit on it.

A woman in her mid-forties, my awareness of the temporary nature of human life is acute these days. As I watch my parents age and begin to think of long term care for my dad, I've started to wonder not if I'll have to wear Depends undergarments, but when. I wonder not about if I'll lose my independence, but when. I wonder not if my mental capacities will decline, but when. And I wonder how I will get along, who will support me, and if I'll be happy.

Strangely, even though we all age, and we all struggle as we age, most of us have no patience or time for the elderly. For many, older people are a nuisance. They slow us down. Rather than aiding them, we focus on how to get around them. They shuffle along the sidewalks in our neighborhoods mostly unnoticed. They sit at our tables and in our armchairs and often fade into the background.

Today I feel a responsibility to minister to the aged. It's hard to make the effort to slow down for others, but the elderly we encounter at the library and the grocery store are moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts. They've lived full lives, they've accomplished much. Many have made life a little better for us because of their hard work and commitment to schools, towns, governments, medicine, law, technology. 

And one day we will walk in their shoes. They ought not to be too uncomfortable.

1 comment:

Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...