Lessons from a 93 Year Old

I had one of those experiences last night that’s going to stick with me for a long time.

Sunday night. 7:30pm. And I was going to a church I had never been to.

I moseyed in the back and found a seat in the second-to-last row, just off the aisle.

Mass started. We were about 15 minutes in, and the priest was giving the homily.

And this old man hobbled in. He was at least 90, hunched over his cane, shuffling along. And he plopped down right next to me.

Now, how can I put this delicately…his entrance was not…shall we say…discrete.

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As an elderly gentleman, his hearing was obviously going, because what he thought were whispers, actually were yells.

Is someone sitting here!? What day is it!? September 4? What’s the page number?

Now, if you’ve never been to Catholic mass, disruptions are…rare and…unwelcome.

People were looking back with pursed lips and furrowed brows, trying to see who this rude disruptor was.

Meanwhile, I was just trying to sink into my seat and keep this man quiet. I got the Missalette open to the correct page for him and quickly whispered the answers to his questions. I even nodded along when he would add a loud interjection about what the priest was talking about.

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I hate to admit it, but my initial response was so superficial and selfish. I was hoping people wouldn’t think he was with me. I was just praying to myself, Oh God, please just make him keep his mouth shut!

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But during mass, I felt my heart soften towards this man. Here he was, he had to be 90+. Alone, on a holiday weekend. Granted he didn’t smell the freshest, but he had a plaid collared shirt on, pressed kakis, and neatly combed hair.

I could only imagine what he thought of me, showing up to mass in my short shorts and sleeveless top.

But it was at the “sign of peace” (where you shake hands with those around you) that I really got a good look in his eyes. No one was shaking his hand, as he was seated and hunched over, and I kinda bent down and positioned my face to be in line with his face, and those eyes pierced my heart. They were so kind and warm, definitely not deserving of the harsh thoughts I was previously thinking.

Cue the Catholic guilt…

But after mass, as I was gathering up my things, getting ready to leave, he said to me, “Thank you for helping me.”

And I looked at him, smiled and said…”You’re welcome, sir. Have a great night.

And as I turned to go, I felt his eyes following me. He was still sitting down, and I looked over my shoulder, and I saw that he had twisted his body to watch me walk away. And he had this expression on his face that seemed like…he had something to say. Like he was wanting to chat.

So I went back over, and sat down next to him. “What’s your name, sir?”

And this man lit up. He shook my hand and introduced himself…with his full name.

When I told him mine he says, “Oh, that’s a movie star name.”

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But he told me about how he loves to come to mass, and that he had heard about Mother Theresa’s canonization on the news. He was 93 years old and had a “long walk” from his apartment to get to church….why he was late. It was clear that this man was hungry for some human interaction…someone to talk to.

And as I was walking home, I just couldn’t stop thinking about that man. I could feel my heart just swelling. Melting. Breaking almost. That was someone’s dadThat could be my dad one day in the far future. 

And I found myself just so convicted that I had judged that man so harshly when he walked in. He was doing his best to get to church, and God bless him for making that walk by himself at 93 years old.

And my whole day turned around, just having that little interaction. I was filled with so much gratitude for my own dad, and my heart was so warm and touched after conversing with that man, who had such a kind and gentle spirit.

It just goes to show that truly, if you give a little, you get a lot.

All I did was have a little 2 or 3 minute conversation, and what I got in return was a new perspective. I got love. I got a feeling of gratitude. I was so blessed by this man.

Anywho, I just wanted to share that story. Not to toot my own horn, and proclaim how pious and charitable I am…Please, that is the last thing I am.

That interaction is going to stick with me for a long time.


Because no matter how old we get, deep down, we all need love. And love is reciprocal. You give a little. Get a lot.

 

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331 thoughts on “Lessons from a 93 Year Old

      1. Only to church though. The other six days he wore jeans and one of his two identical tan shirts 😉

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  1. This is really great!

    I’m reminded of a time in pastor training when I was a hospital chaplain. I’d been called to the floors to visit a ‘difficult patient’ and when I arrived elderly gentleman’s first comment to me was to shout, “Who the eff are you!” This wasn’t going to be fun.

    For some reason I didn’t bail and after a long, and occasionally arduous, conversation it turns out that because of age and hearing difficulties he didn’t really know what was going on with his care. Which caused a lot of fear on his part which manifested as anger. Which of course made everyone leave as soon as they’d finished whatever task they’d come in for. Which left him not really knowing what was going on in his care. You see where this is going.

    After medical staff understood what was happening they took great care to slow down and trying to keep him informed. Things improved, at least in the short term though I don’t know what ultimately happened.

    A couple of minutes can mean a lifetime. Well done and thank you for reaching out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow what a powerful story. I can’t imagine being left in the dark, unaware of my treatment plan was. Poor guy. What an impact you had on him and his quality of life:) thanks for reading! Hugs and love xox

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  2. The truth, dear lady, is that what goes around has an uncanny proclivity of coming around. Your kindheartedness connected you to a needy, nice old guy. It takes a Beauty Beyond the Bones one like you to make it happen. Who’s next on the queue to spread warmness of friendship, especially to a needy one?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved reading your story. I had a similar story yesterday at the home show. I was presenting and someone asked me a really basic question and i jumped to conclusions thinking what a dumb question, got to know the person and actually got them up later on a different presso to help me out. Would love to talk with you more

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When we take even just a bit of time for another we are often rewarded with a great blessing. Everyone likes to feel needed and cared for. Those we wish to ignore are many times the ones most hungry for the attention (as well as the ones who have the most to give).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That was awesome everyone’s our neighbor. Hey praise God for sending him to you because I believe God uses everybody for his kingdom. You blessed that man and got a blessing from him. Thanks for sharing. You are God’s special one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I really think Carolyn (?) that the intergenerational nature of the church is something that needs to be strengthened. I find it so with my 92 year old mother. She enthralls younger adults with her stories of growing up before, through, during, and after the depression…and of her faith. Thank you and blessings!

    Jim

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I could easily see myself in your position, and would no doubt have had the same reaction. I’m marginally better than I used to be with older people than I used to be. But kudos to you for listening to a gentle whisper, a still small voice, and to engage. For whatsoever you do for the least, you do for Him. And perhaps You were the connection he needed that day. I suspect you were.
    Hugs 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Caralyn…I had to chuckle when I read this post. My next door neighbor is a 90 year old man who has never had much social awareness. To be honest, I sometimes avoid conversations with him over the fence because he will talk forevvvvvvveerrrrr (and no obvious nonverbals can discourage him…believe me I’ve tried!). I had not seen him outside for awhile and I found out from his daughter that he fell down leaving the house to play cards with his buddies (he didn’t want to be late…cue irony). He broke his kneecap in two and was off his feet for six weeks. His lawn was getting long so I decided to mow his when I mowed mine (Pious St. Thomas the Aldrich…cue angelic choirs). I was feeling less inspired after the sixth time mowing when his daughter came over and thanked me for helping. Feeling pretty good about myself, she then shared with me how in his eighties her dad was mowing 18 lawns per week for all the widows in the area…for free. Humble pie in my face. My entire perspective on my “sacrifice” and the simple love of an old man seen in quiet service humbled my heart and adjusted my attitude. This simple old man loves like Jesus. He doesn’t speak like Him..hahaha…but his life is preaching to me! Blessings gifted young lady!!

    St. Tom

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this! I took care of my grandfather for 9 years and I learned so much! You begin to see age in such a different light and it affects the way you see and treat everyone around us. There is a reason God says ageing is a good thing lol. Thanks for posting1

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  10. As human beings, we all need to be more intentional with our interactions with the elderly and we need to teach our children that as well. I was raised with several generations in one house, but that’s not the norm with most American families. Sometimes a smile and a simple “hello” is all it takes to start a conversation. Bless you for recognizing his need for human interaction!!

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  11. I really need to thank you for dropping by my blog and hitting the like button for one of the posts there..that’s how I got the opportunity to come across this wonderful blog of yours! Have fallen in love with it, this definitely is one of my favorite blogs out there.. Keep writing! 🙂

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  12. This truly touched me. I had a similar experience the other day. I wasn’t at church and it wasn’t with a sweet old man, but it was with a person many would deem an undesirable. I think it’s so important to help people often, even it’s just a kind word. You have inspired me to continue speaking with those in our society that we tend to forget.

    Like

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