The first was to my Down Syndrome friend, Charlie Whiteaker. I became Charlie's pastor in 1989, 30 years ago. He was 12 years old when I first met him. For 30 years I have made it a priority to call Charlie on his birthday. It is hard to believe yesterday was his 42nd birthday. I simply love Charlie and his family. However, the phone call was a little hard--it has been 30 years and Charlie is now 42!
That came even more into focus when I made my second phone call to my little brother, also celebrating his birthday. Our call was filled with the usual banter about him getting older, losing his hair, going to bed early, and getting senior discounts. Twice a year we go through this routine...once on my birthday in September and then in March on his. We laugh, make fun of each others age, and celebrate another year of life. I made the mistake of mentioning his age, 58, and then I heard his wife's voice in the background yelling--"Today he is turning 60!" I did the quick math in my head and realized, oh my, my little brother had reached his 60th birthday.
To add to my March 4th woes I texted Courtney about my brothers birthday. I said "Today is Stewart's birthday and he is turning 60. He is getting old." Her reply "What about you?" What about me!? This is not about me! This is about Charlie and Stewart getting older, it has nothing to do about me. But I guess it really does have something to do about me. Every year they add to their age--I add a year to mine. I was almost 4 when my little brother was born. I was 34 when I first met Charlie. I am now 63 going on 64.
The truth is we are all aging. We started the aging process on the day we were born. The question is not "will we age?", but "how will we age?" This all led me to look up some self help articles on how to age gracefully. Here is some of the advice others have given...
Reduce stress....get plenty of sleep.....eat a balanced diet....learn something new.....hydrate.....reduce sodium.....use sunscreen....move often.....embrace simplicity.....learn mindfulness.....and most of all, be joyful.
I think the be joyful advice may be the best. No one really likes a grumpy old person. As a matter of fact, no one likes a grumpy young person. I am a firm believer that Jesus intended for us to enjoy life. Part of the joy of heaven is enjoying the trip. We cannot change getting older. The only option to that is to die young! Since I cannot change getting older I am going to make sure I age gracefully and with as much joy as I can.
This is my story...