Caring for the Aged

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Caring for those who can't do for themselves is a holy act that anoints in both directions. God’s heart is very near the ones who can’t do for themselves.

“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.

Jesus, had You grown old on this earth, I’d like to think someone would have visited You with gentle care.
Written by Carol Knapp
Digging Deeper: Ps 71:17–18; Prv15:30

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