My parents have a section of their property that time seems to have forgotten. The gates that give access to this old barn stay open all the time now as it sits as a gentle reminder of days gone by. The mature trees spread their branches and give much needed shade in the summer. This last fall a foal graced the pasture with new life and both mom and baby found a quiet refuge there before being reintroduced to the rest of the herd.
Since the barn is no longer used for milking or shelter, there might be some who think it should be torn down and room made for something newer. Some may see it as “wasted space” because they assume it doesn’t serve a purpose anymore.
But it does.
My dad was raised on a farm in the eastern part of the United States so barns and horses and trees and pastures are part of his favorite memories. My mom has always loved old things, the remembrances of the past, and she especially treasures that which belonged to people she knew and loved. In the twilight of their lives, they cherish anything that reminds them of family.
So the barn stands and the memories linger and what they’ve learned endures.
For those of us fortunate enough to have elderly people in our life, we see this pattern often. As people age, we shed the brashness of youth and grow into a person who feels less invincible. This slowly changes into having a bit more confidence while we steadily increase in inner strength. The years add on to our experience and if we’re really lucky, we’ve had enough situations in our life that decrease pride and grow humility. By the time we are in the last quarter of our life, we realize what is of greatest importance. All the non-essential clutter has fallen away to reveal those pearls of great price.
I am extremely blessed to serve in a woman’s organization in our church. One of the greatest things we get to do is visit the elderly in our community and oh how I love those visits! One of the ladies in our group had a brilliant idea and began asking each woman at the end of our time together what advice she had to give us. We’ve kept a list of each response and these are some of my favorites:
- Call people by their name. (82 years old)
- Never give up. There is always a way. (84 years old)
- Save your money. (89 years old)
- Be kind and good to yourself. (89 years old)
- Always find the good in people and in whatever is around you. (80 years old)
- Do the best you can with what you’ve got and rely on Heavenly Father. (82 years old)
- You don’t have to be right all the time. (85 years old)
- Be happy. Do Things. Keep busy. (82 years old)
We are surrounded by people who might not function as they used to but don’t be fooled by outward appearance: Inside is knowledge for the asking.