I looked up the word old in my Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. These definitions were listed.
- dating from the remote past
- persisting from an earlier time
- of longstanding
Those definitions are fine when I am talking about cars or movies or clothes. However, when I am talking about people, the terms seem decidedly negative. They certainly do not make me feel happy to be in the over-60 crowd.
Therefore, when the word old is used to describe a person, it is more encouraging to state what the term does not mean.
Old does not mean useless or unproductive.
Old people have more and better life stories to tell than most young people have. Maybe that is why Laura Ingalls Wilder did not write the first of her childhood memoir books, Little House in the Big Woods, until she was 64.
The paintings of Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as Grandma Moses, hang in famous museums all over the world. She began painting when she was 74, a new hobby she took up because her hands had become too crippled by arthritis to hold an embroidery needle.
Old also does not mean unattractive.
I Googled “Beautiful Old People,” and read numerous lists of easily recognized names: Helen Mirren (72), Tina Turner (77), Liam Neeson (65), and Denzel Washington (62).
Who composed these lists? If, as the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then anyone with eyesight can recognize beauty.
I have beheld many beautiful old people, but not one of their names appears on the lists I found online.
Through Google Images, I found this photo, courtesy of Pinterest. This old woman’s face speaks of strength and endurance. Her eyes and smile tell me she has a sense of humor.
Based upon appearances alone, I would rather spend an afternoon with this lovely woman than with Jennifer Lopez.
Old does not necessarily mean needy. It is true that as we get older, we lose some physical strength, but most of us can take care of ourselves.
I am revealing one of my pet peeves here, but I cringe every time a clerk or salesperson addresses me as “Sweetheart” or “Dearie.” To me those words mean “You poor, doddering old soul, you obviously need special treatment.” I am not poor or doddering and I do not need special treatment.
In addition to all these admirable qualities, according to the Bible, old people also possess other benefits and blessings.
- Job 12:12 reads: Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.
- Proverbs 17:6 proclaims: Grandchildren are a crown to the aged.
- Isaiah 46:5 records this promise of God: Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
Most old people are productive, beautiful, and competent. God says we have gained wisdom and understanding. Many of us have been crowned with grandchildren. Best of all, God continues to sustain us. These are all wonderful assets to possess.
Celebrate your age, whatever it is. Childhood offers freedom and fancy, middle age brings opportunity and responsibility, but only old age gifts us with understanding and reflection.