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Feather's Miscellany: Growing Old Gracefully

“So now I’ve arrived at old age, how do I find it?’’ asks John Waddington-Feather, going on to provide positive and encouraging answers to his question.

Now I’m seventy eight, I suppose I can say that I’m old – and, hopefully, will grow older for some years to come. So now I’ve arrived at old age, how do I find it? Grievous? Not at all. Painful? At times. Debilitating? Only in body. Mercifully my mind and spirit remain as lively as ever, and so does my pen, their means of expression.

We old ‘uns know all the disadvantages of growing old; yet they’re only as much a hindrance or limitation as we allow them to be. We can’t do much about physical degeneration apart from taking regular exercise, but even when handicapped we can make the most of what faculties we still have. Old age may rob us of many former enjoyments, such as travel abroad or long hikes, or, sadly, tending our much loved gardens; yet it does open up the prospect of eternal youth in a life beyond this one if we have a faith. For those of us who are Christians, Christ’s Resurrection is also ours. Others see death as the end. Let’s hope they’re pleasantly surprised one day!

In old age we may appear childish, but I believe we respond to children more because we have become one of them again; though not childish, only childlike. We have achieved a modicum of wisdom which helps us to see life through new eyes and recapture a child’s vision of life, an innocence lost in the wear and tear of life. Christ himself said we can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless we become like innocent children and see life anew, rid of all its adult detritus.

However, I have to admit I’ve become a grumpy old man at times – and the media doesn’t help, throwing at me all the time everything that’s rotten in the world. Yet the world is still a very beautiful place to live in. Sunrises and sunsets still thrill me, as does the rolling, ever-changing Shropshire farmland around where I live all through the year. The world survived the follies of my youth and young adulthood and doubtless will go on surviving them in generations to come together with the perpetrators of many of those follies – our politicians, whose mouthpieces they are.

The eventide of life brings with it its delights. We can sit back and watch life go by commenting on it or grumbling about it, even though nobody listens, to our hearts’ content now that we’re no longer part of its frenzied torrent. We can spend what bit of wealth we may have bringing joy to others, or indulge ourselves before we become too frail taking exotic holidays which previous generations never dreamed of.

Grandchildren light up old age, for we can dandle them as babies and later share their youth with them. They are another chance in life to make good if we love them and nurture them aright, without all the fuss and palaver we had rearing their parents. If we are reasonably fit, age, as Shakespeare said “is as a lusty winter, frosty but kindly”; and if we apply ourselves to it we can all grow old gracefully whatever our health. In old age, I’ve no wish to be younger; only more tolerant and compassionate in the world about me.

John Waddington-Feather ©


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