by Andrew McQuitty

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How to Grow Old with Class (16 of 17)
E. Andrew McQuitty


A. The world's view of getting old:

1. ILLUS: On April 19, 1951, General Douglas MacArthur delivered his farewell address to a joint session of Congress. As part of his farewell, he quoted a line from an old son, Old soldiers never die, they just fade away. This is a concise expression of the world's view of growing old that has since been restated in many ways: Old bathing beauties never die, they just wade away. Old gardeners never die, they just spade away. Old hairdressers never die, they just braid away. Old teachers never die, they just grade away. Old accountants never die, they're just disfigured. Old brick layers never die, they just throw in the trowel. Old skiers never die, they just go downhill. Old lawyers never die, they just lose their appeal. Old helicopter pilots never die, they just lose their choppers. And old fishermen never die, they just smell that way! People look at aging and find it unpleasant and avoid talking about it except to make jokes about the unfairness of life: Life just seems so unfair. By the time your face clears up, your mind gets fuzzy!

2. No wonder people are afraid of aging. Researchers Tuckmann and Lorge asked a sample of Americans over 80 years of age how they identified themselves agewise. 53% admitted they were old; 36% considered themselves middle-aged, and 11%, young. Tim Stafford has it right: The wonderment with which old people often say, 'I feel just the way I felt at 25!' indicates that when they speak of old age, they have in mind something different from the rest of their life. In our imagination old age involves, not merely different challenges, but different creatures-- wrinkled, trembly, spotted creatures. We imagine them to be very different from ourselves. Lo and behold, we become them. And we are surprised (Stafford, op. cit., 16).

B. But the Bible offers a very different view.

1. Gray hair is a crown of ...

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