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The real news about aging

By Myrtle Virginia Thompson

Have you heard the news, “People are living longer”?

Not so fast. My mom was nearing 99, still in good mental health, when she died after complications from a broken arm that developed gangrene. Her dad was in his 90s the last time I saw him, slow but still alert. My dad was 87.

Dare I say I love being 90 years old? It means no one thinks I know anything interesting enough to talk about, cannot do anything for myself and certainly should not still be active. Now, anyone who thinks the elderly are all deficient are put on notice for any wrongs, mistakes or actions that seem foolish they will hear me happily say when I am corrected, “Well, I am 90!”

I have been called names (the Energizer Bunny) and asked if I still drive. I have been told I don’t look (or act) my age, to which I reply “Tell me how and I will try to look and act 90. In the meantime, I want everyone to know the joy of being God’s child and feeling like I still have both a life and a calling.”

Here are some good details of what has been happening.

I am still teaching the older people’s Sunday School class, but we have gained some new attendees. One is an airline pilot who wrote about growing his faith while flying (a very interesting story).  A lady who faced a very traumatic situation a few months ago has joined the class. Her husband died while he was at work. He fell to the floor and was gone in an instant. She invited a younger lady who is now coming with her. Both say they are enjoying the Bible teaching. A retired dentist whose wife has taught the children for many years has started attending. A young man who helps with the children’s church comes when he is not needed. We have some other newcomers in the church, and I have invited them to come to Sunday school. It has not been a habit to attend, but they say they will start. I am waiting for them.

Before I go further, I want to go on record to say I know, I work with and I love elderly people, some who have memory deficiency or physical problems. I think I am loved by them because they know I understand their concerns. It is not easy to deal with inabilities of any kind. It is complicated by aging. I like to remind everyone “Be patient, compassionate, caring and tender, even if the elderly person is not. Someday, if you have the privilege of getting old, you may have the same inadequacies. Remember that blessed ‘Golden Rule’ to ‘treat others as you want to be treated.’”

The latest and maybe my final career of several is writing. It is said that a writer sees stories in everything that happens. I am seeing them every day, especially when I make my weekly visits to a residential home and to a rehab facility. A little time with someone you know, maybe someone you don’t know, and a listening ear makes the day a little brighter for the elderly. If you have not already done so, step out of your comfort zone and help make someone’s day.

Myrtle Virginia Thompson, 90, is a Suffolk resident, retired missionary and educator. Email her at mvtgrt@gmail.com.