Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…
Psychologists delineate three stages of old age—young old [60-78], middle old [78-90], and old old [90 +]. I call them--because I think it’s more descriptive: Snailland, Decrepitstan, and Drainagascar.
SNAILLAND: Here’s where we live in the early stages of old age. In this first stage, we can do about anything we always did, but slower. Yes, there are aches and pains, and some restrictions--perhaps less night driving, no spicy food after 8 pm, that sort of thing—but we are basically the same people we have always been doing the same things we have always done. Just slower.
DECREPITSTAN: I have recently moved here, to a foreign nation, where people speak a different language, where I don’t know my way around, where I don’t feel comfortable except in my own home. Here’s the real reason I’m writing this column; I’m trying to deal with living in this foreign land, and I don’t know how.
At this stage, life is qualitatively different, not just quantitatively different, the way it is in Snail City. I’ve been slowing down for a long time, living longer in Snail City, and I’ve gotten used to it. Now, though, life isn’t just slower, it’s different. It’s really like moving to a foreign land, where you don’t know the language and you can’t get around.
A lot of life in Decrepitstan is just staying home. As a friend said, “I could do that. I just don’t have any ambition to do it.” I have no energy or ambition to go out into the foreign streets and mix with the hoi polloi. I have nothing against those people and streets. In fact, they look rather interesting. But they aren’t my people; my people live in Memorysoslowvia. They aren’t my streets; my streets are in The Central Confusion Republic.
DRAINAGASCAR: Basically, at this last stage, we are out of touch, and totally dependent upon others. The world has drained our tank of gas, and being so drained, we now just circle the drain.
I’m not worried about Drainagascar. People there will take care of me. I think they’re required to. But in the meantime, in Decrepistan, I am flummoxed. I’m used to doing stuff I always did, only slower—life in Snailland. There really are things, though, that I always did, and now cannot, not even real slow. If I come up with any solutions, I’ll let you know. Or else I’ll see you in Drainagascar.
When Jack Newsome was first appointed as senior pastor at Quincy, IL Vermont Street UMC, one of the middle-aged women in the church asked him to call on her mother, who was in a nursing home. “But don’t be fooled by her,” she said. “She’s not what she appears to be.”
Jack went to call on the lady, and lovely lady she was. They had a great conversation. “Her daughter is the one who actually has the problem,” he thought. “This woman is delightful.”
Then she said, “Rev. Newsome, will you do me a favor?” “Of course,” he replied. “Bring me a pistol. I’m going to shoot that son-of-a-bitch in the next room.”
I’m not to the last stage yet. At least, I don’t think so. If, however, I ask you to do me a favor…