Autumn lets us know that nothing is permanent.
Leaves turn from green to yellow and orange and red,
Finally falling from branches left bare.
There is a pause, a silence, a sense that something else
Is coming soon.
At a life-plan retirement home such as ours, we become accustomed to death; it is all around us, happening almost every day. This is a home for people nearing the end of their lives who know that life is not over until it ends in real-live-death, and who feel that they've got a lot of livin' yet to do.
I am one of almost five hundred people who live on this forty-acre campus. Like many of my Norwegian-American ancestors before me, I plan ahead. I know that if I live long enough, I may die of old age, and I better be ready for it. So, all throughout my life, I have saved every penny that I didn't need. Every refund check went into savings, not available for current spending. In time, I noticed a pattern: Yes, I saved every little bit that I could, and eventually, that built up into a chunk of money, but then a need would occur that was more expensive than my relatively meager income would support. Should I spend part of my savings? Did I really need this item, or did I just want it? When I could, I gave myself two weeks to mull it over before deciding. By the end of that time, I would know the answer. Either I no longer was tempted by the desired item, or I gave myself permission to purchase the needed item. No guilt. No remorse. I could freely and joyfully put the new item to use.
Old age is expensive. Make no mistake. Your income goes down, and your needs go up. Often these are health-related problems. You are injured in a car crash, in an unanticipated fall down the stairs. You have a stroke, or get cancer. I don't need to scare you with all the possibilities. You know what they are. It's not necessary to name every darn thing that could go wrong. Just, in general, don't deny that these things are possible. You are not a teenager anymore. Grow up. Plan ahead.
We have many people living here that I could easily label titans, but this one stands out. At age 105, He lived a long and productive life. You can read more about him here, and I urge you to do so. I am privileged to be a friend of his wife's also. In just a few months, she will be age 107 and loves to philosophize about the current issues of the day. Being elderly doesn't necessarily mean that your mind is gone. So far, my own is intact, and I've got twenty-some years to go if I'm going to live as long as my friend. That's a whole lot of livin' left to do!