By Carolyn Johnson
My mother-in-law said it best, “Growing old ain’t for sissies.” Every human being on this earth faces a constant problem—how to make the most of growing old. There is no simple answer. As we age and move through the years of our life, we play a role in the life of each person we touch. We do effect others for good or for bad, positively or negatively.
In my work at the Senior Center, I have had the opportunity to work with men and women who have experienced life and have insight and wisdom that far exceeds many. They overlook trifles and keep their minds instinctively fixed on whatever is good and positive in the world about them. They feed on the true and solid wherever they find it and they have no jealousy and no reserves in helping the younger set. One never knows when the right decision may be the big one of their lifetime that gives that youth the one big score he had been seeking for so long.
In his book, “See You at the Top”, Zig Ziegler shares the following story. It shows how the elderly must demonstrate both opportunity and responsibility in a most unique situation.
“An old man sat in a cathedral playing the organ. It was the end of the day and the setting sun shining through the beautiful stain glass windows gave the old man an angelic appearance. He was a skilled organist playing sad and melancholy songs because he was being replaced by a younger man. At dusk, the young man rather brusquely stepped in the back door of the cathedral. The old man noticed his entrance , removed the key from the organ, put it in his pocket and slowly made his way to the back of the cathedral. As the old man drew abreast of him, the young man extended his hand and said, “Please, the key.” The old man took the key out of his pocket and gave it to the young man who hurriedly walked to the organ. He paused for a brief moment, sat down on the bench, inserted the key and started to play. The old man had played beautifully and skillfully but the young man played with sheer genius. Music such as the world had never heard came from the organ. It filled the cathedral, the town, and even the countryside. This was the world’s first exposure to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The old man with tears streaming down his cheeks said, “Suppose, just suppose I had not given the master key.”
It’s a sobering thought. We do hold the key to the future of others. That’s the reason as seniors, our obligation and responsibility for doing the best we can with what we have goes beyond our own personal lives. Yes we’re all in this together but as seniors, we’re just in it a little deeper. How would you have handled the key?