Though American culture does not revere its elderly like many cultures do, many individuals and groups do find their elderly sacred. Every Sunday I see Helen in the front pew of the church where she sings in the choir; she has a voice like an angel, a memory like a steel trap, and I love to hear her tell her stories. She is frail, but hardy in her frailness. Do you know what I mean? Who needs a celebrity, a politician, a rock star to revere when right in our midst we have our own Helens?
This week Helen turned 98 and we honored her at our coffee hour after church was over today. Following are a few photos of beautiful Helen interspersed with a poem by David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) with his poem "Beautiful Old Age."
It ought to be lovely to be old
to be full of the peace that comes of experience
and wrinkled ripe fulfillment.
The wrinkled smile of completeness that follows a life
lived undaunted and unsoured with accepted lies.
If people lived without accepting lies
they would ripen like apples, and be scented like pippins
in their old age.
Soothing, old people should be, like apples
when one is tired of love.
Fragrant like yellowing leaves, and dim with the soft
stillness and satisfaction of autumn.
And a girl should say:
It must be wonderful to live and grow old.
Look at my mother, how rich and still she is! --
And a young man should think: By Jove
my father has faced all weathers, but it's been a life! --