I love old people. By old, I don’t mean people who are slightly over the hill and on their way down the far slope. Nor do I mean folks who have been retired longer than I’ve been working and who now spend their time watching game show reruns and the evening news. I love OLD people. The kind of old people whose sweet new wheels have tennis balls on the back legs and the kind who are the only ones who can’t hear the high pitch squeal coming from their hearing aid. I can’t get enough of people who are closer to 100 than 50 and who know they’ve earned every gray hair and aching joint. When I see them, I see a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom. I’ve been blessed repeatedly by the stories and life lessons they so readily share. I owe a debt of gratitude to Merle and Jerry Beaver for instilling in me a love for the elderly.
My sister and I were home-schooled for about three years. At some point, the Beavers, well into their 70’s, invited us over for lunch on a Tuesday morning. I think the goal was to give my mom a break, but whatever the reason, we enjoyed it so much, it became a weekly thing.
We’d show up at their house around 10:30 a.m. and blow through our schoolwork as fast as possible, because there were better things to do at the Beavers’ house. Jerry would make lunch while we watched the People’s Court then the four of us would eat lunch together. Assuming we were done with our work, we would then break to the living room for two hours of games. They taught us countless games, and they were always gracious in trying to learn the games we knew and enjoyed (Merle normally got confused and frustrated, but he was good natured about it). We kept this schedule for years, and it became a highlight of my week.
Here’s what I want you to know: you’re never too old to make an influence for good in the life of a young person. Merle and Jerry weren’t exciting, they weren’t boisterous, and they weren’t overflowing with energy. In fact, there were times when Jerry would have to kick Merle under the table to wake him up during our games! But this couple decided to do my mom a favor by loving on her kids, and they became a set of foster grandparents that my sister and I still cherish. Along the way they helped shape me as a person. Here are a few more things I learned watching them:
- You’re never too old to be in love.
- You’re never too old to have fun.
- Buttermilk is disgusting (I learned that one the hard way, to Merle’s great amusement).
- The elderly are incredibly interesting, and the experience they carry with them is a precious commodity.
- Nothing is more important than God and family.