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Christmases come and go and always Grandpa anchored events from a big chair in the corner. Now, Grandpa’s gone and Dad’s visiting my sister, so I’m the anchor. How did this happen?

There was a time when NFL quarterbacks were my age. It was good to play the game vicariously through their similar faddish words, dress, and insights. Now I’m old enough to be the quarterback’s father. His hair is funny looking—won’t see me wearing hair swooped to the center in a pointy Mohawk—he uses words coined yesterday, and his insights at times seem laughably immature. Don’t even ask me about college quarterbacks. How did this happen?

There was a time when someone else picked up the restaurant tab. We were, after all, young marrieds with more kids than dough. Now I pick up a lot of tabs.

There was a time when my kids were little eepers fawned over by grandparents. Now my kids are parents with little eepers of their own and we’re the fawning grandparents, “Grandpa Rex” in the parlance of our grandsons. Because “Grandpa Rogers” is my Dad when he’s able to come and of course our grandsons have grandfathers on the other side of their family too.

There was a time when we piled the kids in the car and went to the grandparents’ house. Now the family comes to our house. Not a bad deal, this. Grandma works more in the kitchen but enjoys it and Grandpa can steal away to write a blog. Meanwhile the house is full of noisy boys. Pretty good.

I remember my grandfathers, patriarchs in their own way, both men short of stature with take-over-the-room personalities. Now I am, I guess, an “emerging Patriarch.” What this means besides picking up the tab I’ve not yet figured out, but I’ve picked up a few things so far:

--Patriarchs pray over meals.

--Patriarchs good-naturedly endure jokes about gray hair, putting on weight, snoring, and falling asleep at the cinema.

--Patriarchs offer opinions, solicited and unsolicited, on pretty much everything.

--Patriarchs take out the trash, bring in the wood, and stay out of the kitchen.

--Patriarchs read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve.

--Patriarchs love the resident Matriarch, modeling this for all to see.

--Patriarchs grow into this idea of being the oldest one in the room and try to wear it well.

Being the oldest one in the room has its own joys and privileges. Your horizon’s bigger, so you see farther. You understand things differently and more deeply than you did when you were younger. You get to be amused and bemused by your progeny. You appreciate God more because you’ve seen more of what he’s done. Pretty good.

I’ll watch Dad when he’s in town. And I’ll keep working on this patriarch business. Judging by how my grandfathers handled it and how Dad is conducting himself now, I know patriarchs are supposed to finish well. Pretty good.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Dr. Tony Evans once observed people are always saying they’re “Dying to do this or dying to do that. Pretty soon, they’re just dying.”

Evans further noted that no one really knows who the old people are, i.e., if you’re 25 years old and you’re going to live until you’re 40, you’re fairly old. If you’re 40 yrs old and going to live to be 100, than you are fairly young. So no one really knows who the old people are. (International Forum on Christian higher education sponsored by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, Dallas, April 2006.)

So what’s the moral of the story? We’re all in the same process—if we’re breathing, we’re aging. We’re getting older and there’s nothing we can do about it. Though there’s something we can do about how we go about it.

In commercials we’re sometimes treated to pop culture maxims like “You’re only as old as you feel.” That’s encouraging, because sometimes I get up or go to bed with aches. So I guess I feel old?

Or “Age is only a state of mind.” OK, try that one when your mind says “Go” and your bod says “No.”

Or “50 is the new 30.” All right, I can get into that. Except there are things I could do when I was 30 that I can’t do in my 50s. More importantly, there are things I could do, maybe did, in my 30s that I don’t want to do in my 50s. So does this make me older or wiser? An aging Boomer or an emerging Brainiac?

I’m 58 at the time of this writing. Even if I live to be considered elderly, I’ve already lived most of my life. This isn’t a morbid thought, just a realistic one. Do I have another 10, 20, 30 years? Another day? Blessedly, I don’t know. I only know that God’s given me a certain number of days and I’m accountable to him not for how many days I have—that’s his call—but for how I use those days.

In the past couple of days two notable men died, one at 84 years who I knew only by his public persona and work, one at 96 years who I knew personally.

The first: Leslie Nielsen, an actor who will be most remembered for comedy films, Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, late in his career. Nielsen had a successful acting career, but he was well into his 50s before he “hit it big” with his hilarious comedic gift.

The second: Peter Cook, a man who lived his life in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a locally respected businessman and philanthropist, one of the kindest, most gracious men I’ve known. He was financially successful in automotives earlier in his life, but he’ll be most remembered for his considerable generosity and the humility with which he gave in the last three decades of his life.

Both men accomplished great things in their “older years.” Not everyone can do what they did, but everyone can do what he or she can do.

There’s no rule written in the sky that says people must put stop aspiring, stop growing, or stop achieving simply because they’re older. Besides, as Tony Evans noted, nobody really knows who the old people are anyway.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

 

For a lot of reasons people don’t like to get older. But there are a few advantages, too, if you look for them. Here are some:

- Getting to know your own kids as adults.

- You know things now you didn’t know then.

- Ideas, aspirations, goals, in time, turn into “successful failures” or achievements, but either way, a life of your own making.

- You come to understand that “This too shall pass,” a maturing and an enormously liberating grasp of reality.

- You learn giving really is better than receiving. (BTW, I have a cat to give to you—give me a call).

- Come to understand that most parents and most pastors were right after all.

- Learn that grandchildren are great when the come (to your house) and great when they go (to their house).

- See more rainbows.

- Realize that the pursuit of happiness can be an unending tyranny, whether briefly attained or not.

- Learn that money matters, but not as much as we think.

- Realize that “Just Married” is great, but “Still Married” is better.

- You get to see “how you turned out.”

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.