“You don’t just wake up a sweet old lady…”
That’s what my friend Rosemarie Kowalski reminded me several years ago. “It has to start now. My auntie is proof of that.”
Disabled and bedridden by a stroke, Rosemarie’s Aunt Amalia still radiates with the joy of the Lord.
Though her once-active lifestyle is now behind her and there are plenty of reasons to murmur, Rosemarie’s uncle says, “I’ve never once heard her complain.”
Now that’s a far cry from my prop-me-up-on-the-couch-and-listen-to-me-whine approach to suffering.
If I have the sniffles or my back aches, everyone knows about it. I want Jell-O and tapioca pudding served on a tray just like Grandma used to bring when I was little and out of sorts. Stroke my hair and rub my back. And don’t forget a glass of 7-Up for my upset tummy.
Suffer in silence? Not me. My misery loves company and a large audience as well. Needless to say, my family is not looking forward to my old age. And neither am I.
It’s miserable being miserable.
Keep Me Sweet, Lord
“Keep me sweet, Lord!” has become my after-forty prayer. I don’t want to be a contentious, demanding, fearful old woman. But that means I’ve got to stop being a contentious, demanding, fearful younger woman.
Which means I must get serious about living according to what I know rather than what I feel.
I love the following prayer I came across years ago. It’s attributed to a seventeenth-century nun, which seems a little strange to me considering its contemporary tone. But the author was definitely a woman. No wonder it echoes the cry of my heart so well.
Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from getting talkative, particularly from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs.
Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind from the recital of endless details—give me wings to come to the point.
I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others’ pains.
Seal my lips on my own aches and pains—they are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
Help me to endure them with patience.
I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet.
I do not want to be a saint—some of them are so hard to live with—but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people.
And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
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I’d love to hear from you…What getting-older request would you add to this prayer?