Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Mean Old Man

I expected him to be gentle and kind. I expected him to be wise. After all, he had been alive nearly 10 decades. 

I was six. My Aunt Evelyn had taken me on my first nursing home visit to pass out bananas and magazines. I was wearing my favorite little sailor dress and I had new blue ribbons in my hair.

I liked elderly people. My grandparents and great-grandparents as well as the older people in my neighborhood and church were familiar, trustworthy, beloved.

I can still see his face in my mind a half century later. He jerked my arm and he pinched me. Hard. I shrieked, horrified. And then he laughed. And pinched me again, bruising not only my skin, but my heart. 

Years later I felt a similar confusion looking at pictures of Nazi war criminals discovered and captured during their old age. A grandfather holding a child. A neighbor walking a dog. An old man in the market.

Not everyone gets character lines as they age. Some people just get wrinkled...and meaner. Roots of bitterness dig deep and we reap what we have sown. 

I expect to be gentle and kind. I expect to be wise. But as I age, I can already see the struggle it is to hold my tongue, to control my spirit, to become God's best version of me. Just expecting it is not enough. It's not nearly enough.


  1. To become God's best version of me....inspiring thoughts. And I love the photo you used. My great aunt has the print hanging in her home. It was my great grandmother's. Thank you for bringing such beautiful memories to mind.

  2. Oh, and I mentioned you in my blog today. I hope you might take a look when you have time. http://faithandsubstance.blogspot.com/2012/11/its-thursday-and-im-thankful.html

  3. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Tamara. I am delighted to share your blog with my readers. Indeed we never know when God will use us to bless someone. Thank you for writing!