My 14-year-old grandson lives about 5 miles away, so we see him often. We recently celebrated his birthday, as well we should because we know he is better than last year in many ways: stronger with better agility, making better judgements. Improvements all without effort. Next year, these traits will improve even more. He is on his way up.
I, on the other hand, am on my way down; I am in my declining years. This year is the best year of the rest of my life. Next year is sure to be worse, and the following years even more so. Isn’t this depressing? No, not as long as it is expected and seen as natural. I am not the man I once was, and should not expect to be.
The best I can hope for is to start the decline high enough, or that my decline is gradual enough so I will always be better than average (for someone my age).
The same goes for women. I remember my mother exclaiming to my wife, “Oh Missy, where do you get all your energy?” My wife attributed it to her nurse’s training. My mother wouldn’t ask that, today. My wife moves as slowly as my mother did then. But we need to see this as a natural progression, not as something wrong that needs to be corrected.
I was reminded of this when I saw the final pictures of the once- glamorous Zsa Zsa Gabor, now a ghoul waving uncomprehendingly from her hospital bed. But seeing her as attractive as we remember her would be worse, for her and for us.
I see decline as nature’s way of slowly preparing us for death—at the end, there is little left to loose and, for many, death becomes desirable.
My wife has health problems, and doubtless feels she is being punished while we get off scot-free. No, she is just a little ahead of us. Our turn is coming, soon, and may be far more difficult to endure.
I will only pass this way once and want to experience all life has to offer, the good and the bad. Jesus only lived to 33. He only experienced to good parts, but he was cheated from the full life experience. How would he have handled his decline? How would he have handled other’s decline? We will never know, as He never knew.