For two years I taught a Sunday school class of elderly ladies. Not one of them was less than 75 years old. Their prayer requests and tearful accounts of their children and grandchildren the past week made me sad and angry at times. They would often say “It’s hard to be old” or “don’t get old.” I learned a lot from those ladies. Thinking of them the other day, these thoughts came to my mind.
In our culture we value old books, old wine, old paintings, and old cars. Antique stores are full of pieces of history, and there are men who will spend months and thousands of dollars rebuilding a Buick from 1920. A tattered aged book with pages missing may be worth hundreds depending on when it was written.
Consider the things that are locked up behind glass in a museum. People pay lots of money to see the buttons off of someone’s dress or the pen that someone used to sign a history making document. We put value on things made of ceramic, gold, and even a piece of stationary if it is old enough. And yet, the one thing we don’t seem to value is old people.
What does it say about us that we will spend lots of time, energy, and money on old things, but not old people?
Some will search every antique store in the state looking for a particular item, but many children have forgotten their mother and father in a nursing home out of state. They complain about medication costs, health care for the elderly, and visits needed to drive someone to the store. These same people will sleep in a parking lot in freezing cold weather overnight to be the first in line for some new gadget that will be out of date in six months.
There so many products to reverse, hide, or repair the “damage” of aging. Notwithstanding surgeries, how many billions of dollars are spent on “anti –age” creams, lotions, and foods? The poor choices we made when we were younger should be the only thing we regret when we are old.
The corrupted message from society implies the elderly can and should have done something to prevent the aging process; and since they did not the only other thing to do, is to remove yourself from society, and die quickly.
The message tells valuable people that they are burden to their families and the world would be better off without them. It’s appalling to think that things with cracks and wrinkles have more value than people with the same. I used to get so angry listening to these dear old ladies neglecting themselves because they did not want to be a “burden" and ask for help.
I wonder what the Rock of Ages and the Ancient of Days, thinks about our treatment and lack of respect for the elderly in our society.