What does growing old mean to you? Do you view it as a tragedy? Does it make you think of deep wrinkles, loss or loneliness?
I spent two years of my life living in the United States, with my 93-year-old grandfather. We lived on a horseshoe shaped road with a view on a golf course. At night, I could always hear the rumble and screech of the train in the distance, and feel its gentle vibrations in the house, as it came running through town. In the backyard, there was a wooden bench worn smooth by age. This is where my grandfather likes to drink his iced tea and listen to Frank Sinatra on his small golden-age radio. If you listened closely, you’d probably hear him humming along to the music.
Living with my grandpa redefined my opinion of old age. While he may regularly watch the weather channel, fold his socks, and eat soggy cereal, he doesn’t let his age define him. He still does push-ups every morning, just as he did when he was a teenager, and he still plays golf. He finds pride and purpose in the little things, like changing a light bulb, mowing the grass, or going to church.
Even though he survived WWII, the death of a daughter, his 1st and 2nd, wife, his mother, father, twin sister, younger brother and a countless number of friends, each year he still proclaims with enthusiasm ‘Surprise’, when his surprise lilies bloom in his front yard. I too found myself surprised, each year, when a beautiful flower would bloom from an empty stick.
So you see, growing old does not have to be synonymous with melancholy, mournfulness, or misery. In fact, it can be the complete opposite. After 93 years of living in the same city, my grandfather is still learning and discovering new things. He also laughs a lot, especially at his own jokes.
Through my grandfather, I learned the importance of enjoying those small moments, which catch you off guard, and make you appreciate life.
As Mark Twain once said, “age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”