Return to Wonder
Odd that we elders do not often share with youth the wonders of old age. We grouse about our bodily aches and limitations but the gifts of aging are as real as its losses. We do our kids and grandkids no favor when we conceal from them the quiet satisfactions of old age, the return to innocence that envelops our passing years, the sweet comfort of our memories and the return of our childhood capacity to wonder.
Among the many unheralded blessings of old age is our ability to return to the innocence of our childhood. We look upon the tiny hands of a new born baby and we are astonished. We are in awe at the flight of a raven gliding in majesty above. Our eyes come alive at the sight of a young woman jogger moving past us so effortlessly, her young legs strong; her motion so fluid.
The deepening shadows of a fall afternoon invite us to pause and enjoy the moment. Whether we touch the rough bark of an ancient redwood or smell the sweet scent of a honeysuckle or revel in the sound of a long forgotten song or the laughter of children at play, we find ourselves nourished, graced by the small wonders of life. If only for a moment, our heart is filled with wonder and thankfulness for the gift of life. “What did we do to deserve this?” we ask ourselves.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make them aware of the gratitude we feel towards them and the warmth of our love. The next generation should know that old age is not all darkness and pain. They should know that, along with the challenges of aging, there is fulfillment and hope and yes a return to wonder.
If we but make the effort we find that the gifts of our senior years are many; forgiveness, tolerance, gratitude are all our companions as we near the finish line. Hopefully, we become less hardened in our judgments, more accepting of our failings, more humble and above all, grateful for the gift of our years and the God who lives within us all.
Legacy of Laughter
My big brother Joe, who died recently, was an excellent pediatrician. Admired for his professional competence and genuine caring, he also carried a secret weapon, a weapon that, in the long run, made him a better physician; Joe had a great sense of humor.
I recall him telling me about meeting another doctor at a professional meeting and being asked his specialty. “Pediatrics,”Joe answered. “Oh,” said the doctor, with just a touch of patronizing in his voice. “I can’t understand why anyone would want to spend his career looking after a gaggle of snotty-nosed kids.” Joe replied, “Why, what is your specialty? ”
When the doctor replied “I’m a proctologist,” Joe admits cracking up. (Proctology is a field of medicine dealing with disorders of the rectum, anus and colon.) Joe said, “I’m sorry Doctor but I’ll take the kids any day.”
Another time Joe was working on a team of medical professional and found himself partners with one of those pompous professionals we have all met from time to time. According to my brother, this was a nice guy but he just took himself a little too seriously. The next time he went out on rounds with the doctor, Joe surreptitiously planted a piece of paper on his back with the words “KICK ME.” The sight of the distinguished physician drawing mysterious giggles from the nurses and other staff must have been hilarious. Joe admits that it was a junior high school kind of joke but had no regrets. “In our profession you need to show your human side,”
Having a good laugh, especially at ourselves, is a good weapon to have in our arsenals, whether we be doctors or super market cashiers, old folks or youngins. Laughter puts our lives in perspective when the “woulda, shouda, coudas” of daily living get us down.
A sense of humor enables us to see our lives through the prism of the ancient redwood forests and the mighty ocean and the billions of years our planet has existed. Man o man, we are so blessed just to have been given the gift of life.
We have our role to play as human beings…to tread lightly upon our planet, to be kind to others, to give back the gifts God has honored us with, to stand by our kids and family, to dance and sing and yes,to know how to laugh and share that gift with others.
It helped make my brother Joe an extraordinary doctor. It can turn our own lives into something special as well.
laughter, perspective, sense of humor