When we are babies, our parents count how many weeks old we are. And then how many months we are. As we grow a bit older, they count by the years.
As children we are constantly wanting to grow older; to be five, six and seven and then we can’t wait to be 10. When we’re 10 we can’t wait to be teenagers, and as teenagers we can’t wait to be totally independent.
Once we reach the twenties we stop wanting to grow so much. We don’t want to say we’re 25, 27, and 30. After 30 we don’t even want to say how old we are, let alone the 40s and 50s. However, growing older is a very big blessing.
True, we are always trying to get to the next age or the next birthday. Our responsibilities are always growing and with that our minds as well. The more responsibilities we have, the younger we want to be.
Physically our bodies and minds do different things at different ages, and they function at a different rate throughout our life. As babies we can hardly do anything. As toddlers we can do more, and as children and young adults, our abilities are superb. We grow and our bodies grow with us. And so do our capabilities and abilities change all the time. When we grow older also our mind changes and our abilities to think and plan and do things grow. This blessing helps our choices and decisions become better with age.
When we get older we are wiser from life’s experiences. However not always do our bodies function as they did when we were 18, 19 and 20. The mind might want to race and do so many things but the body has gotten tired and can’t do as much as it would like to.
This past weekend my father came to me for Shabbat. My father, may he be well and live till 120, is close to 90 years old and his mind thank goodness is well and functioning and smart and experienced and can do so much and yet the body might not let him do all the things his mind wants him to do.
On his way to my home in Jerusalem on Friday my father’s car got stuck. He was forced to order someone to tow his car to the garage and take a taxi to my house. This experience troubled him greatly; getting stuck on the road, being so needy, not knowing what to do, feeling so helpless, and needing somebody else’s help was so upsetting. These thoughts troubled my father. What would he do now without a car? Does this mean he’s going to depend on people the rest of his life? Does this mean he lost his independence?
We talk constantly about living till 120, about getting older, about wanting to live long lives. However, as the years go by the body gets tired from all its life experiences and we start heading towards that 120 limit. Our body starts to get tired and does not function the same.
My father is constantly telling us that 50 isn’t 60, and 60 isn’t 70 anymore and this concept is a hard concept to accept after a person has been active and productive his whole life. Eighty sounds just like a number but the numbers do catch up to our bodies and we are not as fast as we used to be.
I’m in my fifties and I feel quite old compared to my children who are in their 20s. Then I look at my parents and thank goodness my parents are alive and well. They are much older than I am, and when I see them, they always say, “when I was your age I could do so much. I was just like you.”
I’m glad that I’m active and do many things. I’m glad that I can do many productive things throughout my day. On the other hand, when I get worried and think I might not be able to run around and not be able to do 100 things in an hour as I get older, it makes me a bit nervous. How could it possibly be? How will I deal with it?
I want to let my father know that I appreciate his wisdom and the time he spends with me. I feel that it’s my privilege that I have my father with me and that he is growing older in my lifetime.
I thank Hashem for the privilege that I have to be able to respect and help my parents all these years. I cherish the privilege that I have to respect my parents. Nothing lasts forever except for the heaven and the earth, except for G-d. Thank you, Hashem for the parents that I was given.
I pray and hope that my parents will live forever. However, everybody’s time comes. I’m so happy that my father and mother are alive and well and getting older and that I have the honor to take care of them even if it’s just to bring them a cup of coffee or get them a taxi. May they be well and healthy till 120.