When I was young, I looked forward to getting older. When people would ask how old I was, sometimes I would say with great excitement, “I’m almost six.”
The next year seemed full of promise and new things I would be old enough to do.
I was excited about growing. When my mother performed the annual marking on the kitchen door that showed how tall I was, we both marveled at how much I had grown in a year.
I was really excited about reaching “double digits.” It brought being “grown up” into the realm of the possible. Never again would I be stuck with the little kids in single digits.
My age had the same number of digits as those people who were older and getting to do even more exciting things because they were older.
I longed to be old enough to be called a teenager.
And then age became tied to real rewards. If I was a certain age, I could drive. If I was a certain age, I could vote.
Age became attached to performance. If I was old enough, I could graduate from high school or college.
Age became attached to dreams. If I was old enough, I could be a real nurse. I might marry. I might have children.
But somewhere in my thirties and forties, the joy of getting older began to wear off.
The commercial world around me began to have its influence. I bought makeup to cover what I considered the flaws of aging. I dyed my hair to cover the emerging gray.
Especially when I reached the forties, I began to get those birthday cards that predicted a dismal future of wheelchairs, dentures, incontinence, memory loss and a host of other maladies.
Doctors no longer said, “We can fix that.” They told me whatever ailment I had was what “happened to everyone when they got older” and I just needed to adjust.
Becoming older became something to hide, something to dread. The joy I once felt in getting older was slowly being sucked away.
In my latter fifties and early sixties, I noticed another disturbing trend, not only in myself, but in others. Recounting all the things I had done in my life seemed to label me as a dinosaur.
Any acknowledgement of a long, rich history brought about comments like, “Wow! How old are you?” If I actually revealed how old I was, I was given the questionable compliment of, “You look good for your age!”
When I was headed for being Medicare eligible, I noticed people were treating me differently. I felt the same, but I processed I was being treated differently. If I took a misstep, a perfect stranger would swoop in and grab my arm. That didn’t happen with younger people.
And so it came to be that I no longer revealed how old I was. I tried to stay up to date on the latest expressions and events that would be of interest to younger people. I hung out with young people … carefully selected young people who actually seemed to enjoy my company and didn’t make age an issue.
And then the “fountain of youth” was delivered to my husband and me. We were asked to lead a Sunday School Class of people who were in their 80s and 90s.
Not only did we feel instantly young again, but God also provided a way for us to see up close and personal what it was like to be excited again about aging.
Our new friends proudly announced their ages. They looked forward to the next birthday. Just as I had once said, “I’m almost six,” they said, “I’m almost 85!” Or “I’m almost 100!”
Or they would say with great anticipation, “I’m almost home!”
Most of those dear friends are home now. But on this birthday, in their memory and in honor of those who are still working their way towards 100, I have decided to quit hiding my age.
I am going to wear it with joy in thanksgiving to God Who has allowed me to stay on my earth assignment this long.
I came to Lexington, Kentucky in 1972. I have now lived here 47 years.
So it seems like the right time to reveal I was born in 1947 and today I am 72 years old in earth time. In God’s time, every day begins anew and so I am quite young.
Thank you for all the good wishes on my birthday! You are all a part of the ways God has blessed me!