Tuesday, July 17, 2012


My sister and brother-in-law, Betty and Frank Coy, had Mary and me over last night for a birthday supper celebrating my 72nd which is this next Thursday, July 19th. You can imagine what a great time the four of us had as we ate, laughed, talked and generally reminisced about our childhood and growing up years which included, as every one's history does, some great times and some sad times. By the way, the silhouette picture of the old people does NOT reflect any of the four of us who were there, it relates to what is about to be said.  [Smile] 

None of us could believe we've been around as long as we have or wound up being as old as we are. It was a fun visit with the four of us having a healthy time of laughter [and a few tear-like moments] over some of our history. 

We talked of our parents, all of whom have died, with Mary's mother the only one still living. My own mother died at 90 years of age about three years ago and the memory of her condition the months before her death is still with me. 

It got me to thinking about aging. It's tough getting older and, although I wouldn't personally change where I am right now for any other place I've ever been age-wise, honesty demands that I admit the fact that it is a little tough getting older. But what's even harder is caring for and dealing with older people as my sister and my brother and I did our mother, and Mary and her siblings are now doing with her mother. 

One of the reasons I've found it to be hard is, I've found that older people [much older than am I of course] sometimes wind up in a condition that reminds me of what I would call, for lack of a better word, "child-likeness."

Our kids as children, if you can recall those days at our age, often had an inability to remember things, do things for themselves, though you couldn't convince them of that, even to think logically sometimes about the consequences of actions often times. But they were children back then after all.

Adults, who've gotten aged, can be a little like children it seems to me. But children they're not. Adults they remain, at least chronologically, and to give of yourself to an adult in that situation or to bear responsibility for them, is not easy by any means. What is the secret? I don't know, and I doubt there IS a "secret" since all situations differ greatly.

But I did notice some things while caring for my mother. The biggest thing may well have been recognizing the fact that she could NOT do some things for herself and had to be guided even assisted when she couldn't. And yet there was the need to respect her as an adult all the while. For instance, when occasions arose where decisions had to be made about her life and possessions, they were made, yet her ideas, opinions, and felt needs had to carry some weight, as long as possible, in the mix for there to be real respect.

This fine line is not easy to find, walk, or maybe even understand. But as I look back on my own mom's passing, I think it may have been part of the process that helped me and my siblings during that time when we bore responsibility for her in ways that we hadn't previously.

Obviously, to communicate to an aged person that they are sometimes like children would be self defeating and disrespectful. So don't tell them that at all is my counsel to you. But do carry an awareness of it in your own heart. I think that will tend to soften your heart, still your anxiousness, and maybe even help you smile at some things that otherwise could create consternation or even hurt.

It is not an easy task, this growing old. It's even harder to care for those getting older when that responsibility falls to you.  But as the years go by it may be we all will be in need of some understanding and even some information to help us know how to help those who are aging. I'm thinking it needs to be talked about. So I'm talking.

Paul B.  


Wade Burleson said...


Children have no concept of money. They spend whatever they get on things they wish to enjoy.

With your excellent thoughts today about senior adults becoming like children (again), I am assuming you and mom are preparing us that you both intend to spend our inheritance!


P.S. Have fun doing it! :)

Paul Burleson said...


How well you know your Dad and Mom. Sorry, it WILL be all gone but, having had fun doing it, we will think of all you kids with appreciation for what might have been yours were we not having so much fun. LOL

Aussie John said...


You're so right! Your subject does need talking about.

How could I possibly do otherwise than agree with your thoughts expressed in,"It's tough getting older and,..... honesty demands that I admit the fact that it is a little tough getting older.

I certainly would change where I'm at now. Getting here was tough, but where I'm heading...Wow!

We were particularly blessed as both Val's and my parents were active and functioning well at home until their deaths at our age (my 73rd close).

To end on a bright note! You share your birthday with our second son, Andrew.No wonder he is so wise :)

We wish you a blessed and happy birthday for Thursday.

Aussie John said...


Old age you know! I meant to say,"I certainly would NOT change...."

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

I'm still laughing.

Even your comment mistakes are right on target. LOL

That, my friend, was classic and vintage Aussie J!!

Rodney Sprayberry said...

I think the topic of your post important for those of us who are dealing with aging parents, friends, clients, and pts. Many of the hospice pts I deal with are very much aware of their limitations (even when they are not aware of much else...there is frustration /fear that is very real) the key is to offer help when it is needed and necessary but to affirm their personhood, choices, and abilities as much as possible.
Even now I am sitting with a pt who has just drifted off to sleep. He is my friend and I love him. He cannot talk clearly ( except when he curses) but we manage to communicate. We share something that cannot completely be explained. Call it a connection or mutual respect, etc etc but I do not see him as a child or a project or a case or someone I am trying to help. I care about and desire for him to have the best in this life (and the next) that he is able. However, I will not force what I think is best (unless he is in harms way) on him. That emotional, spiritual, an relational space is usually the last remaining volitional opportunity I can honor with him in these last days

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for your comment. What you're doing is commendable and I applaud you for it. There is no telling the comfort a man in his condition gains from your being there for him.

I do hope you see, and I'm sure you do, that in no way was I saying the aged are to be seen as a child or be treated as one.

Quite to the contrary, while "child-likeness" is used to describe emotions, memory, and even attitudes because of physical and mental deterioration for those who are aging, I specifically stated that "they are not children, adults they remain."

It would seem to me that fact must never be forgotten.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Dear Paul,

In no way did I think any such thing. I guess what I was trying to communicate ( apparently not well :) is that you are correct. Regardless of age, mental status, physical ability, and even consciousness my friends and aging family members are image bearers and whatever that means in life, including the sunset of that life is preserved through the night time of disease, aging, and death ght into the sunrise of the next. Our calling as those who love them is to honor that as best we can in our (and thier) lfallen condition
like at sunset of lthis life

Rodney Sprayberry said...

That last phrase l"like at the sunset of this life" is misplaced.....chalk it up to age or typing on an I phone !!!!

Paul Burleson said...


In the great comment for which I'm appreciative, you said this..".Call it a connection or mutual respect, etc etc but I do not see him as a child or a project or a case or someone I am trying to help."

I wasn't sure but what you might have thought I meant we were to see them as children. Obviously you didn't think that at all and I'm glad. Your ability to communicate is not in question any more than my understanding abilities. But I'm a WHOLE lot older than you so it is more my problem of understanding than yours of commenting. LOL

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...


I remembered your birthday BEFORE reading your current post.

Happy Birthday, and may you have many more!


Paul Burleson said...


Thanks. I've really enjoyed your blog. It was kind of fun seeing the difference of opinion among some readers on the latest topic. The unity of the Spirit was evident even there. Amazing and refreshing.

Rex Ray said...

Late on this blog, but I’m experiencing that old saying that getting old is not made for sissies. I had both knees replaced and one was so bad it’s in a brace and can’t start therapy for another week.

I believe that visits that count are from people that are not asked to come or someone’s job, but are like the friends of Job.

My twin brother had a heart attack and a triple by past the last part of May.

His daughter wrote this email:

Wanted to share an encouraging story...My dad has always had this incredibly unique gift of making friends almost anywhere he frequents. My mom and I went to lunch at a place called Paradise Bakery and she noticed a Mexican man bussing tables....she told me "That's one of your dad's friends." My dad loves to sit in restaurants and write and somehow he has gotten to know this man. The amazing thing is that he speaks barely a word of English. Somehow we communicated to him that my dad was in the hospital...His eyes perked up and he kept saying "Hospital??" so we wrote down the hospital and room number and he said...."I come." Sure enough he came that afternoon, holding tightly to his Bible and prayer beads and he cried out to God for my dad...at times even touching his face to the floor as he prayed. He came the next day and did the same. Such a kind & humble man who fully believes in God's power to heal. My dad wrote this poem and read it to me with tears in his eyes. I thought it might be an encouragement to you as well. Love, Melody

(Note: my dad doesn't know his name so he made one up...something he even does when he knows someone's name! I hope to find out his name, but in the mean-time...it's Charlie.)

My Friend, Charlie Rose
He came by today just to say, "God is on His way"
A kinder face, you could never find
Carved from desert rock by the blowing sand
Bent now by sun and his labor of love

He speaks no English; his T-shirt flies with bakery flour
Courteous, polite, contrite he stands, without a seat of honor
His dark Spanish eyes sparkle with tears, of the good thing that he shares
We wait in the hospital room with a respectful air

He lifts up his prayer beads to God and sinks to his knees.
Tears flow and fall on his brown hands; then puddle on the floor.
And he pleads for God's mercy in a language so strange
Yet known by every man on the open range

He remains prone on the floor; his tears continue to stream.
Yet with deep contrition he lifts our souls to heaven's gate
And although he washes dishes; it is his prayers that to heaven will fly.
This is my friend, Charlie Rose; I think he lives closer to Jesus than I

Hez Ray, May 25, Friday 2012

Paul Burleson said...


Good to hear from you and I hope both you and Hez have a speedy recovery. GREAT poem Hez wrote. Thanks for sharing.

Rex Ray said...

Hez got shingles in the hospital from his eye to his throat...no fun.

Many years ago this story took place.

Denton, Texas is the home of North Texas State University where my twin brother, Hez Ray was in the business of buying and remodeling houses for sale. A young black man asked to rent the house.

“No, the house is just for sale; where you from?”

“Oh, no one knows where I live in Yellow Knife, Canada.”

“I’ve spent a couple of weeks there. What are you doing so far from home?”

“I got a four year scholarship for winning in hockey at the first Canada’s Olympic Winter Games and now I’m working on a PHD. I almost didn’t get to play as there was a big fuss if I was eligible or not. They left the decision up to the Fairbanks Athletic Director who organized the games. If he hadn’t let me play I’d probably be working in the cold mines.”

“Yeah, they didn’t want you to play because the school picked you up from an Indian village.”


“Because I’m the man that let you play.”