"She scorned with a scream, 'You'll never grow up!'
I looked upward and begged, 'Please!'
"But, alas, it turns out it is the spirit in a man, not age."
Hazel just turned 93.
She asked my age.
"Three decades junior," I reported.
"You don't look it," she observed then smiled, "and I hope you don't act it."
A senior wrote in my 8th grade yearbook, "May you live as long as you want to and want to as long as you live."
Bob didn't make it as long as Hazel still does.
He was only 71 when he went back home to Jesus.
Yet, like Hazel, he would agree with the senior who wrote in my 8th grade yearbook.
I'll never forget his enduring youthfulness.
Not long after the horrific tornado in Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011, our family of faith followed up a big relief check and truckloads of supplies with a large work crew and VBS staff.
At the time, Bob was hooked up to a heavy oxygen tank with a failing ticker sending him to more than occasional visits to the hospital.
Bob was determined to make the trip; but several well-meaning women of Martha-like, uh, uh, uh,...asked me to counsel him to stay home because of his declining health.
They said it wasn't safe for Bob to go.
"Too risky," they insisted.
Parenthetically - and Bob often told me how much he liked me using that word in oral and written messages - I'm really not amused when people make bullets for me to shoot. Really, if you wanna say something to somebody, say it yourself. Have the courage of your, uh, whatever. And instead of asking me how folks are doing in the hospital, why don't you follow Jesus in a Matthew 25 kinda way and make a trek? Yeah, I'm still gonna go; but wouldn't it be nice if you went too? Parenthetically!
Well, I know it's more of a pain having to answer to church ladies when you don't obey 'em; sooooooo like most wimpy pastors of this generation running errands for people who can't/won't do it for themselves, I went to Bob and told him that some, uh, uh, uh, church ladies wanted me to tell him that they didn't think he should go to Joplin because he was chained to the oxygen tank and had a bad ticker.
Bob looked at me with those big brown eyes of his that were so strong yet so gentle at the same time and seemed to glow as he said through one of his patented mischievous smiles, "I would rather die doing something for God's sake than give up just because of this ___ tank!"
Some people rust away.
Others ride off in a blaze of glory.
No rust on his soul.
My father-in-law just turned 90.
He has 4th stage cancer.
He's always been one of my heroes; for with my dad and other upper octogenarians and more, he was part of the last great generation of Americans who were collectively in love with God and country and willing to sacrifice for 'em.
Anyway, he loves cutting the grass on his John Deere tractor.
When I saw him after Easter, he said he was getting some static from other family members about getting on that JD and cutting the grass at his age and with such health challenges.
He asked what I thought.
Despite putting myself in a precarious spot with you know who by responding, I answered, "Well, I've always said we're ___ if we do and ___ if we don't; which is quite liberating in that we can say whatever we think knowing we're going to catch it regardless. So, yeah, if you know the probable consequences of falling off your JD, I'd go for it. Like freedoms in America, once ya give something up, ya rarely get it back. So, as Nike says, just do it!"
When I heard he did, I told his daughter, "Score one for freedom and manhood!"
No rust on Ralph's soul.
My first and continuing hero, my dad, is always buying golf clubs.
My mom wonders why he needs 'em.
Really, women just don't get men just as much as men just don't get women.
Maybe Bruce Jenner understands the mystery; but most women and men don't.
Female is female and male is male and one comes from Venus and one comes from Mars.
Or something like that.
Actually, it goes back to Genesis; but, really, because most folks pay more attention to planets than the Bible these days...
Getting back to the point before it totally escapes me, I said this when my mom complained about it again, "O.K., just tell me when dad stops buying new golf clubs so I can clear out my calendar and start preparing his memorial service."
My dad just bought a new driver.
Says it has added 20 yards with more accuracy.
No rust on his soul.
Our church boards are really young compared to most mainliners.
When I tell other pastors about it, they get kinda green-eyed.
Sooooooo we've got a problem different from most other churches in our franchise and town.
We're always looking for people who are older to balance things out a little.
Not too long ago, I said to one of 'em, "I hope you'll take another three year term."
She asked why.
"There are three reasons," I replied, "that quickly come to mind. First, we need your experienced leadership. Second, you don't act like a geezer. Third, you've gotta have goals and purpose and raison d'etre no matter how old ya are. I don't want you to rust out. I love you too much to see that happen to you."
I think she's gonna do it.
No rust on her soul.
Once we stop acting younger, we start getting older.
O.K., cynic, chronology happens.
Spirit is...embraced...or not.
Some things are not predestined in an existential/volitional kinda way no matter what hyper-Calvinists dogmatize.
That sounds silly.
Just like people who look...because they act sooooooo...
Blessings and Love!
When I get old, I don't want people thinking "What a sweet little old lady..." I want them saying "Oh #@$! What's she up to NOW?" :)
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