CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winer… Expectations in the Old-Age Olympics [W, 5-23-81]
I have written of Bonnie Blair before, but during the winter Olympics in February, I thought about her a lot. We lived within an hour of Bonnie’s home in Champaign, IL for thirty years. That’s where our TV news originated. Our daughters and son-in-law all did graduate degrees at the U of IL there.
So we knew about Bonnie when she was just a little girl who liked to ice skate. We did not know this story, though, until she told it later in life…
As a little girl, she liked to go around with her father as he ran errands. One day in a store, he introduced her to the owner. He said, “This is my daughter, Bonnie. She’s an ice skater. One day she’s going to win a medal in the Olympics.”
Bonnie said she had never considered what she would do in life, but when she heard her father introduce her, she thought to herself, “Oh, I guess that’s what I’m supposed to do.” So she did. Five golds and a bronze.
The expectations of others have a big impact on us when we are children. They have a big impact on us when we are old, too.
Some folks expect us to keep on doing for others the way we always have, even though our health has declined enough that it’s really hard to do.
Some see us simply as a management problem.
Some see us as irrelevant, just taking up space, circling the drain.
Some do not see us at all.
Some, though, see us just as persons, folks who have all the same needs and hopes as others, even though we may be slow and forgetful. I like those people. I choose to forget those who expect too much, or who see me as a management problem, or as irrelevant, or who don’t see me at all. I say to those who see me just as another person, “Oh, I guess that’s what I’m supposed to be.”
BONUS: Helen says that what we remember most about folks who have died is how they laughed and what they laughed at.