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Task #4: Make a friend forty years older than me!

“This gettin’ old ain’t for sissy’s ~ Clara Conway

Dennis, I’m so sorry you have to find out about this by reading my blog. No one planned this; it just happened. As part of my journey of self-discovery, I set out to find a friend 40 years older than myself. Shockingly, I fell in love.

Yes I know my darling, I told you just last night that you are my BIG LOVE, but… a handsome man has crept into my heart. As you know I have had a few false starts on this task… may they rest in peace, but I finally found my older friend! He is forty-five years older than me at a stately 95 years old. Unfortunately, it’s love. Now don’t worry, I’m not leaving you, but I’m also not giving him up. Selfish? Yes, probably, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Let me tell you about your rival.

His name is Eldred, and he has a lot to offer. First of all, he has a great sense of humor, you know how I like to laugh, and he has quite the repertoire of jokes. Second, he is a physical specimen, he still works out every morning,… yes, it’s with a walker, but still, he’s in great shape. Thirdly, he is very wise and has a perspective on life that can only be earned by living almost a century in this world. Lastly, we have a lot of the same interests, he loves to garden, bake, and has a wicked sweet tooth, just the other day he served me a homemade piece of sweet potato cobbler.

Eldred, was married for 67 years before the love of his life passed away seven years ago. He refers to her as his soul mate, and he lights up when he talks about her. He still lives independently in the house he built for his bride with his own two hands. He was a carpenter by trade and worked hard his whole life. He has always been very active helping out in his community, working with the Shriner’s and St.Jude’s, but what he sees as his real calling is the elderly. It doesn’t matter that the people he is visiting are often younger than he is! Back when he was able, he and his wife volunteered five days a week in nursing homes around the county. As you can see he has a heart of gold!

Click on the link below to see us enjoying one of his jokes (sorry Dennis)

For sure, laughter is the way to my heart ❤️

All right my followers while Dennis is crying in the bathroom let’s chat. So what have I learned from someone who has seen so much of life? Most importantly, he has impressed upon me the important things in life, love, commitment, sacrifice, kindness, and charity.

The other thing he talks about a lot is money. At first, I was a little surprised, money seemed too earthly a subject for a man of his age and wisdom. However, once I thought about it, I realized what he was driving at! Poor money management and greed are the roots of a lot of problems in life. Especially since the number one reason for divorce is fighting over money. He has seen that how you manage your money is one of the few things in life you can control, and if you have a handle on it life with be much easier. He never bought anything he couldn’t pay cash for, including their house, and Eldred says he never dwelt on what he couldn’t afford. At 95 he has never been on vacation once.

Eldred is pretty far down the path to his eternal home, and he worries about the way this world is going. He feels excessive materialism, and greed is rampant and keeping us from what is truly important in life.

The number one thing though that getting to know Eldred has taught me is to be kind and open to making new friends at any age. The first time I went to meet him, a friend told me about him, I just walked right his open door and sat down. We talked and laughed like we had known each other for years! On one visit I was disappointed there was already 2 ladies visiting him when I arrived. They were armed with homemade baked goods in a thinly veiled attempt at seduction. I mean who were these young hussies (they are in their seventies), ruining our alone time! Rude! But, if you’re going to get older your going to attend a lot of funerals, so you have to keep on adding new members to your gang. I guess I will have to put up with his other girlfriends, but I can’t say I was too upset when I tripped and accidentally ran my key down the side of their car when I was leaving. Hehe.

Taking care of Betty & Donald

So what about how we treat the elderly in our society? Somewhere along the line, we twisted the beautiful ideals of hard work, and self-reliance, into the idea that once we are older and or can’t physically contribute as much as we used to, we are now a useless burden, not fit for the public. We seem to want to shut our elders away and not bother with their time-consuming needs, never mind even looking at their less than robust bodies. If we are made in the image of God, isn’t our value intrinsic and not based upon our abilities? I know Eldred is frustrated that he is no longer able to do everything he used to be, but shouldn’t just the fact that he breathes be enough for him to be valuable? I think so.

Another thing Eldred has said to me many times is “Nowadays they make a pill for just about everything, but they don’t have a pill for what hurts most, loneliness” That hurts my heart, and if you have one it should hurt yours too! I get it, caring for the elderly is not everyone’s gift, but we can all do something. If for no other reason than, what goes around, comes around!

My kind sister-in-law Karen paints the ladies nails at a nursing home. Can you imagine the joy it brings them!

John 12:12 ESV Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.

Aging is hard, but it inevitable. Do you know what the opposite of growing old is? Being dead! So, how do we re-frame aging? I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have thought of a few ways.

For one, we can look to other cultures. In countries all over the world, the elderly are revered and taking care of them is seen as an honor for their loved ones. In Korea, when someone turns 70, a party called Chilsun is planned. This is a lavish feast to celebrate that the person who had reached such a milestone when most of their ancestors never made it to this revered age. Why do I think they no one brings Depends and denture cream as joke gifts to these significant events?

Hmmm, that gives me an idea. My father turns 80 next November, I shall plan him a Kielki party! What the heck is Kielki, you ask? It’s a Mennonite food. Oh dear, I have done it now, I have outed myself. Yes, I AM A MENNONITE, MIDDLE-AGED, CRIPPLES DRUDGE! Wow, I honestly feel better getting that out in the open. I no longer have to hide my horse and buggy in the garage, pretend I can’t speak Plautdietsch (low-german), and I can quilt in public! I digress, we will talk about that another day.

Who the hell is that looking back at me in the mirror?

The other topic that has been rolling around in my brain since meeting Eldred is how do we treat ourselves as we age? It seems we might be listening to the constant negative narrative about aging. Our culture is obsessed with youth and beauty, so we feel less and less worthy as we age.

We all wonder, who am I if I’m not attractive?, who am I if I can’t contribute? I understand nobody enjoys slowly resembling an old, wrinkly potato, but we can choose to shine our inner light. 1 Peter 3:3-4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in the God’s sight. 2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore, do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed each day.

WOW, three Bible quotes in one Blog post, Auntie Lee-Lee is full of the spirit today! Can I get an

Give me a second while I get my tambourine out and listen to Dolly Parton sing Go Tell It On The Mountain

OK, I’m back. Dennis made me quit, he said my tambourine playing was exacerbating his Multiple Sclerosis… as if!!!

One of my favorite role models for aging with grace and dignity is Audrey Hepburn, she is often reduced to being a pretty face, but she was sooo much more. As we age, if we grow in character, beauty tiptoes inward, creating a radiant inner light.

If you can’t see the beauty in both of these pictures, maybe this isn’t the blog for you.

I must confess I have a secret weapon for keeping my vanity in check as I’m getting older… Dennis. As the lumps, bumps and wrinkles on my body multiply, I remind myself, it works. What Dennis wouldn’t give for a body that just simply works. I don’t have a lot of patience for moaning and groaning about signs of aging, I know that legs that work, even if they look like stretched out, chalk white, nurse pantyhose, is an ordinary miracle not to be taken for granted.

My dear Dibbuns, some of you are young, some of you are old, and some of you are like me, plopped in the middle. These are fundamentally human issues we all grapple with if we are here for any length of time. Why don’t we help each other find the moral depth of character to respect and treat the elderly with love and kindness?

While we are at being our better selves, let’s embrace our own aging process and show ourselves the same compassion. I believe we will all need a spiritual well to drink from to pull that off. Finding where and what your spiritual well is, will be part of your adventure. Culture will push back against your joy, it will tell you, you should look younger, smaller in some bits, and bigger in others, that if you’re old your useless. Hasn’t the world always strayed from Godly wisdom? Be bold, Be Brave, be your own kind of Beauty, if others don’t recognize it, it’s their loss.

Although, I don’t think the word glamorous comes to anyone’s mind when they think of me, here as a short video with some helpful (well more like interesting), tips for looking good at every age!

Living my best life!

Alright, my sweet Dibbuns that’s it for now. I will be back soon after I spend a day in a wheelchair. Remember, we will all be older and if we do it right, wiser and kinder!

xoxoxo Leana, Lee-Lee Bear, Tart, Naner, Auntie Lee-Lee, or whatever you call me, just call is all I ask!

6 thoughts on “Task #4: Make a friend forty years older than me!”

  1. I’m with JO, you do make life beautiful!
    Thanks Leanna for your sweet and thought provoking blog. Always look forward to drinking my cup of coffee with you and your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great blog as always, Leana! You make me laugh, cry, reflect & pray more. I feel like a better person after I read your writings…keep ’em coming my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my sweet menno Buddha cousin – you have outdone yourself here. Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart and wise thoughts. Love you to pieces 💗.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This blog is awesome. I really enjoy my time that I spend with the residents at the nursing home each week. Thanks for sharing this. 😘

    Like

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