“She has many wrinkles to show her great knowledge of the world.”
–Katherine Applegate, Home of the Brave.
I hope this line will be a fitting way to describe me when I am an old lady. Now that I’ve surely passed the halfway mark, I’m starting to take cues from lively nonagenarian friends like Phyllis, the neighbor who loved on my husband and his siblings when they were children, and then adopted the rest of us as we arrived on the scene. Well into her 90s now, Phyllis is the kind of person who always uplifts, who makes you think about the kind of woman you will be if you’re lucky enough to live that long in such good health.
We can’t know for certain how we will feel at 75, 85 or 95, but it’s worth asking, who would you LIKE to be when you are old?
1. Can you visualize your character?
2. How will you spend your hours?
3. What work will you want to do in a frail or infirm body?
4. How often will you pray?
5. What and whom will grab your attention?
6. How will you stay mentally sharp?
7. What will be your default emotion?
8. Will you offer a litany of complaints and vocalize every pain, or find the strength to be transformed and refined by your physical deterioration?
9. Will the beauty of your spirit be more evident than the demise of your body?
10. What will shelter you from the dread of death?
11. What are you doing NOW that will store up great memories?
12. What habits of mind will be so well honed that you’ll still be open to renewal?
13. Where will your legacy of love be left?
14. On whom will it leave an imprint?
15. What will make your heart flutter with anticipation?
16. What will you do that makes a young person pine for another hour spent with you?
17. Who will visit?
18. Who will call for the pleasure of it—not out of mere obligation?
19. Who will find pleasure and humor in your jokes and observations?
20. Which vices will be distant memories?
21. Which grudges will seem foolish?
22. What words will come from your mouth that edify those who hear them?
23. How will your relationships mature beyond the finite roles you had in the past?
24. What purpose will light your path after you’ve lost your closest allies and kin?
25. How resourceful will you be?
26. How grateful will you be for the people who look after your needs?
27. How much will you appreciate their time, labor, treasure and emotion?
28. How will you maintain your dignity when you can’t do the basics of life without help?
29. What part of your past will be so memorable and cherished that it will energize people who sacrifice for your care?
30. What limiting beliefs have you kicked to the curb?
31. What prejudices about yourself and others will be banished from your mind?
32. How often will you consider tweaking some malformed thought?
33. How often will you meditate on a lifetime of blessings and relationships?
34. What will matter to you?
35. What will you practice as if it were the last rehearsal before you join the stage of eternity, before your farewell performance and your debut are one and the same?
36. What is the long-abandoned negative trait or behavior that will cause you to blush in shame when you think of your former self?
37. What will you regret you didn’t do?
38. What are you doing NOW that will seem insignificant then?
39. How will you show that growing old is a blessing?
40. What will you BE that will inspire young people and give middle-aged people the impetus to make wise use of the strength they have today?
41. Who will save your letters and treasure them later?
42. What qualities will show the close relationship you have with the Creator?
43. What will make someone bow a head in sorrow and say, “A great light has left this planet,” when you die?
If we begin to ask these questions now, perhaps we can work with our Creator to craft the person we will be then. My goal is to be like Phyllis, the kind of woman that causes my younger friends to say the same thing every time we part company: “What a lady.”
What’s your intention for your Golden Years, friends? How are you using your imagination to make it a reality?