Caring for the Aged
“Even to your old age...I will carry you....” —Isaiah 46:4 (nas)
My experiences with elder care, while serious, have had their lighter moments. My one-hundred-year-old aunt in Pasadena, California, who from excellent long-term memory loved to say, “The Lord’s been good to me,” had trouble with short-term memory. Each time she watched National Velvet’s horse-racing scene, she saw it happening at nearby Santa Anita racetrack. She’d exclaim, “Just think! A girl won—right over there! I’m so proud!”
Staying with two sisters in Minnesota, one recovering from major spinal surgery at eighty-nine and the other with early-stage Alzheimer’s at eighty, I learned how the younger sister had already purchased a marker, engraved with name and birth date, set in a family cemetery plot in another state. However, she now planned to be buried locally. Her older sister quipped of the other marker, “They’ll think she never died!”
In Washington State, I lived with an eighty-two-year-old recovering from cancer who had an afternoon medical appointment. The receptionist jabbered on about a dental ordeal in hyperdetail while this woman sat in her chair. I hid a grin behind my book as the old woman kept a determined patience and exhibited a dignity I won’t soon forget.
I look to the courageous lives of these women to learn how to grow old. James 1:27 calls it “pure religion” to “visit orphans and widows in their distress.” God’s heart is very near the ones who can’t do for themselves. Caring for them is a holy act—one, I have found, that anoints in both directions.
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