9 Feb 2014

Mellowing means texture, depth & strength

It is inescapable. We grow. We grow older.

I live in a young nation still. But she is getting older. In fact, she turns half a century next year. I am but a few years younger so I feel tethered to her and as she ages, so do I. Anyhow, I get plenty of help reminding me: mirror, advertisements, falling energy levels, increasing number of areas that ache, people calling me 'auntie' who are taller than me, aging parents-in-law.

But it isn't just our bodies that age. Our souls do too.

We describe people as growing mellow - referring to their loss of oomph and zest - a coming-to-terms with reality where people begin to trudge along wearily. This unfortunate image still trumps all other pictures of senior vitality. We mourn the loss of youth.

And no wonder. If we see life as something we must make the best of, growing old is very regressive and regrettable. We simply have less to wager on. So we grow frenetic trying to prepare for that retirement nest egg to make up for losses in youthfulness. 'Have money; will travel, see the world, live it up - still'.

In fact, growing old isn't so bad*. Every season of life will have its limits. The child cannot make decisions for himself. The youth cannot actualise his dreams just yet. The young adult is trying to make every spinning plate stay up in the air.

Accepting our limits is part of embracing life, and so having a sense of satisfaction.

Growing old is can be a time of great stability. One has figured out more of who one is. One has fought for, and discovered what is important. One has learnt to let go, to lay down, to lose at times. Life has taken on hues and textures not possible in the earlier years of gung-ho machismo.

People we have not given up on, and who have not given up on us, wear like comfortable cotton house clothes.

We have trembled and wept through pain and losses, realising that we have little control over what is precious, and that we cannot know all we are desperate to know. This gives us a certain positive invulnerability and we are on a more even keel.

We have known love's enemy is not hate but indifference - and been forced into the open by our own longing for love.

We have walked long with God and now allow Him to be God, more.

We are learning to live with mystery.

Hopefully, we are more forgiving, patient, generous and laugh more easily.

We have so many stories to tell to anyone who would listen.

We have lived.

I think of those who are even older. Who wouldn't think or write the thoughts I just did.

As a nation, we have a growing army of elderly. Not to be sidelined, but to be honoured as life veterans. Sure, not everyone of them is a sterling example of success. Many are poor and needy in fact. But they have weathered life and it has been their very ordinary days that added up to the colour and vibrancy we have today. It was the boring dad and mom who went to work and cooked the meals, who fretted over exams and cooled hot foreheads... they gave us something to stand on. It would be inhumane of us to sneer at their seeming lesser lives.

In a few encounters I had with the elderly, I realised what they lacked was the facility and vocabulary, not the heart, the thoughts and certainly, not the all too common human experiences of life. My own mother never had a chance to go to school but she had rock-hard determination to make sure we did. She had values that no one can tear from her soul. She had insights and perceptions that did not come from books and Ted talks. When I took the time to talk with her and listened, I feel her strength and her power of being.

Just this year, I heard two real-life stories of the old displaying such grace and courage. What's more, both are the supposedly non-expressive, insensitive Asian men. One, whose wife was very ill, stayed with her and one day lovingly held her hand and assured her that he will always be there. Then he turns to his children and assures them that as a couple they will commit to the same faith. His wife had just become a Christian a few weeks earlier.

The second man was struggling for his life in the hospital as he underwent a slew of investigations. In a rare more lucid moment, when his wife came to see him, he asked his wife to forgive and overlook his mistakes.

In this year of the horse, I am growing older. I won't even attempt to halt the process (though I may finally colour my hair) but with my little hand held firmly in a much larger One, I want to walk on in courage. This is a beautiful picture right here -

Strength and dignity are her clothing
and she smiles at the future ~ Proverbs 31v25

To my elders, I hope I am patient and respectful.
To those younger than me, I hope to be a source of wisdom and stability - and I won't let some young punk tell me I am less.

*not including those who are very poor and destitute - another post perhaps.


  1. Yes. I needed this. We all need this. I pinkie promise to remind you of this often...and I need the same! Bless you!

  2. Loretta dear, thank you for making this precious promise to call me out! Like, needing it ...right now! Sometimes we really find it hard to make sense of our lives - and can only free-fall into His Grace arms.


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