I’ve been thinking quite a bit about elderly people lately, in part because my grandma would have celebrated her 85th birthday on May 23 were she still alive. She passed away almost three years ago and I still think of her every day and miss her dearly. I spent the afternoon of this May 23 watching some friends give a concert to residents of a nursing home. Most of these dear people were in wheelchairs; some were falling asleep during the concert, others were driving their chairs in circles around the rec room, and some were having a lot of fun with the maracas they’d been given to participate with in the concert. What reservoirs of memories and experiences must have been contained within them! The woman sitting next to me insisted that I take the metal triangle she’d been given and try it out myself. My own grandma refused to go to doctors for the 30 years in which I knew her, going to dentists only when tooth pain became bad enough; ending up in a hospital or a nursing home would have been even more distressing to her than to normal people, given her lifelong avoidance of medical care. Thankfully, she still lived to be 82, even as a chain smoker! However, this is a story for a different time.

This week I’ve been immensely inspired by one of my fellow students in the icon workshop. She is certainly in her 80s, but you would never know it. She is more stylish and thin than I’ve ever been and drives to class in her sleek Jaguar. She has lived all over the world – South America, Norway, the U.K., Dubai – as a result of her husband’s career, becoming an international traveler well before it was common. However, she’s not in the least bit prideful, but is very down-to-earth and sweet, often quoting snatches of scriptures in an authentic, honest way. Her vitality and curiosity astound me; the fact that she is excited about beginning to learn icon painting even in her 80s humbles me, one who sometimes questions the point of beginning new ventures in my early 30s. She reminds me of the need to establish a vision for my life and to cultivate the physical, mental, and spiritual health that will perhaps allow me to be like her in 50-some years.
Photo is of a flowering crab from my trip home this spring.

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