Growing old isn’t for wimps. Not that I’m growing old — or am I?

Years ago, I thought 30 was old. After I passed that mile marker, I was talking to a friend one day who told me that you’re not a person until you’re 30. That made me feel a lot better. What I think she meant was that a young man or woman hasn’t had enough life experiences to build his/her character until that age.

Some young people might beg to differ. As I look back on my own life, though, I can see that I learned a lot in those early years and I was forming opinions and building character along the way.

However, I have learned a lot since then, too, and I changed my mind about some things and I had to correct some mistakes I made. But, I believe that life on earth was not intended to be a bed of roses. Maybe, it was meant to be a learning experience.

I had a friend once who gave birth to a handicapped child. She said she asked God (as many who give birth to a handicapped child probably do), “Why me, God?” Then she realized that she wasn’t alone in her distress and answered her own question: “Why anyone? Why not me?” Through the trips to the hospital and the adjustments in family life, she and her husband were tough. Their physically-challenged son and their other three sons grew into fine, upstanding men.

The challenges of everyday life are preparation for the ones we face in our later years.

I was talking to a 91-year-old man last weekend who needed a scooter in order to be mobile. I asked him if he was able to walk at all. He said, “very little.” I told him to use it or lose it. He said he already lost it. But, he didn’t lose his mental capacity and he had lots of memories to share. They were memories of his early life, his travels and the influence he had on others as a college professor.

On the other hand, I was talking to a man who thought he was having mental issues, because he had misplaced some things. He didn’t seem to think that, because he is in his 80s, is dealing with diabetes and is caring for his ill wife, that he should give himself a break. If he is just now forgetting things and misplacing things, he is at the head of the class. I’ve been doing it for years. I believe it started when I had children. Maybe I’m at the head of the class.

If you’re not a person until you’re 30, (no offense to any young people who might be reading this) I wonder what you are when you hit 70, or more. Maybe that’s when a person can share her/his memories and wisdom with the younger generation and help make the world a better place.

(Dorothy Burchett is the author of the book “Miles and Miracles,” available at Pokeberry Exchange in New Castle. Contact her at dorothybutzknight@gmail.com)

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