Through glass dimly

One just can’t know the loss of personal freedom, how it feels, what it lives like until you get older and feel the slow leak of capabilities shrink. I sure didn’t. I watched my own mother’s loss and instead of looking closer at what was going on (or God forbid, asking her) I got frustrated with its outcomes instead, and her along with it—as if she were to blame for aging!


I’ve given this whole topic considerable more thought after having a conversation with a friend recently—about value and worth as bodies age and we shed our productive and professional identities. And after sobering up professionally, I have to admit there remains a sense of diminishment in me. While I make fun of my place in the aging category, I am reminded too of its emotional costs.

Given this small “come to Jesus” moment, if mom were here now, I’d apologize prostrate and profusely, for being so dense and dismissive with her, not paying attention. But how could I have known then what I could only learn once it began in me? Seriously. The aging thing; The slack disregard, the dismissal by others, as if you’re no longer a credible person, which implies less value, less worth. Half a person, really, with a lesser-than ability to even think!


I see my son and daughter-in-law react the same to me, or at least similarly as I did towards my mother, hence I’m on the receiving end of the spectrum now. The up close and personal feel of “less than” that is subtly reflected in their eyes staring back at mine as an imprint is painful. They won’t have kids so will not know the personalization of it when they get old. Although, since this is a societal problem also, they’ll still likely feel it’s sting to some degree.

Not-so-oddly, some aspects of aging I gladly surrender while other losses I resent like hell! I think of handicapped people (which I’ve come to include myself loosely in the category) and the grief they must feel in this regard. But aging? In some respects it’s a different kettle of fish altogether because unless you die young, everyone goes through one or both categories to some degree. And as a foot in each camp of aging and body breakdown, I feel some of the sting in each.


In more general terms, I look at others in my age group and often see similar patterns of personal freedom either denied or forfeited. Some individuals seem less affected or maybe I don’t look close enough because the symptoms are less obvious, more nuanced. Maybe they don’t consider it much, let alone express it. But the prospect and likelihood of each of us getting some humbling learning opportunities in a youth prized culture is unavoidable, at least to those who seek learning about such things. Ultimately, as the eyelids drift closed for the last time, rumor has it “all will be presented” in a flash for which both accounting and sweet liberation will occur—deliverance in its own time and place where value and worth are redefined by a greater and more generous authority.

3 replies
  1. Bob Rubin
    Bob Rubin says:

    Ah, late in life struggles. I remember struggling with whether I should work on Saturdays late in my career when it seemed necessary. Technology had not helped diminish my weekly hours making it far easier and tempting to work at home on Saturdays. At one point I even considered laboring on Sundays but, thank God, my spouse, Kristine, quickly talked me out of it.

    I cannot describe how gratifying it was to walk out of my office on that last day of work. It was almost like the world had been lifted off my shoulders.

    On the other hand, it wasn’t long before various systems in my body were beginning to slow down and decay. I am a victim of inbreeding as a 100 percent Ashkenazi Jew.

    My paternal grandparents were cousins. Not a good thing. I am slowly feeling the effects of that now at 78 years of age. Hope the progression continues to be slow, but, who knows?

    By God’s grace, he found Kristine and me almost 38 years ago. It’s made the road more tolerable and more peaceful. She is the love of my life and He is our savior, giving us HOPE in our last quarter.


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