Retired? Or Sidelined and Forgotten?

A few weeks ago I sat in the sound room of a recording studio as a retired college professor recorded the text portions of two devotional hymnbooks we have developed for seniors. His voice, still deep and rich, resonated beautifully and almost flawlessly through almost three hours of recording. As we finished, he told the sound technician, “I am 84 and a half years old. I don’t have much opportunity for ministry any more, but I would be interested in more projects like this one if you could use me.”

I find it sad and even alarming when I consider how we treat our seniors. They drive too slowly. They take too long in the checkout line at the store. Some can’t see or hear well. They don’t like change. They are opinionated. They don’t like technology. I could go on, but all of the above generalizations and more could be pinned on us at times. Society and the church are often guilty of, dare I…? Dare I put it in print? Okay, ageism!

A few years ago, I went back to my hometown and met with a group of senior ladies who wanted to be a blessing to other seniors less fortunate than themselves. For several years these ladies called their ministry Elder Source, and they still do. This morning I received news of the eldest member of that original group, Evelyn. A nurse making rounds found Evelyn dead. She had passed away quietly in her sleep last night. The last two days had been good ones for Evelyn, and she was talking of seeing her husband again. What a wonderful way to go!  
Evelyn loved the Lord, her family, and her church family. As long as she was able, she attended church. She enjoyed helping with the nursing home ministry, praying for others, baking cookies, and attending Senior Saints. This year she voiced some concern about continuing as part of the Prayer Power 52 7 Project (a senior praying daily for a young person), saying she did not know whether she would be able to finish the year. She continued to pray as long as she was able, and I assume she did so until the very end.
Her attitude was humbling. She could not see well, could not hear well, and, in the last few years, could not eat easily (because of denture problems); yet she didn’t complain and continued her ministry of prayer. Whenever someone stopped by, the person was greeted with a smile and encouraging words. Speaking for those of us who were privileged to know her well, we have lost a special friend. However, we find comfort in knowing that she is finally Home.

Earlier today I was thinking of “ism” words, words ending in ism. None that came to mind were positive. Ageism is a word that you don’t hear often, but it is alive and is growing like a prairie grass fire. I started this blog mentioning a retired college professor and continued by telling of the passing of a nursing home resident. Ageism would label both of these wonderful people as irrelevant. How very sad, and wrong. Fighting ageism is a battle we may not win, but we can each do our part to live a life that gives honor and respect to others, regardless of their ages. Maybe, we can start a new prairie fire! 

Stan Means
Elder Source senior Ministries