Paul Moore: Becoming “spotty” — a reality check on aging, but I’m going somewhere
In My Father’s House / Paul Thomas Moore
“I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them, Sam-I-Am!”
No, this isn’t a rant about cancel culture (which is itself a bit of a rant by times).
I would simply like to borrow Dr. Seuss’ attitude — and rhyme scheme — for my own rant: “I do not like spots on my hands. I wish these signs of age were banned!”
Creeping age hasn’t offended me too much by making my joints a little creakier. Having been blessed with nothing serious in terms of muscular-skeletal challenges, I’m able to do the stretching and light exercise that keeps things moving.
“I do not like spots on my hands. I wish these signs of age were banned!”
By the same token, losing follicles and gaining forehead is something that’s been happening gradually for so many years that I’ve come to a certain peace about it.
However, these brown spots — I find the term “liver” spots even less palatable — seemed to have appeared almost overnight and are most unwelcome. As a child, these were the signs of age I noticed on my elders, and finding them on my own hands, face and arms is a real reality check.
The train of life is chugging along.
A PLAN AT EVERY AGE AND STAGE
My artist sister-in-law, Dawna Gallagher of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, posted the attached Facebook drawing that pretty much describes the situation as I am experiencing it. Like dandelions on the lawn, having seen one spot, they seem to be everywhere.
Furthermore, repeating Lady Macbeth’s decree, “Out . . . spot! Out, I say,” seems to have little impact.
Of course, like dandelions, the spots won’t last forever, because this body won’t last forever. That reminds me of what Jesus said about “the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow.” (Luke 12: 28)
Yet, earlier in the same passage the Lord speaks also about how, “Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid.” (Luke 12:7)
Granted, he wouldn’t have to count too high for me these days, but the point is he cares. At every age and stage he has a plan for me.
BEARING FRUIT, EVEN IN OLD AGE
I know the aging process is not going to reverse course. After Mass recently, my wife and I were reflecting with a family friend about how our dads and her husband had all passed away four years ago in the summer of 2017. I shared how I was increasingly feeling my own advancing years these days.
She gently reminded me, “That’s the way it’s supposed to be — we’re going somewhere.”
Then, about a week later we were called (by one of aging’s less-gentle reminders) to an elderly neighbor’s place: she’d fallen hours before and couldn’t get up. We made sure she was as comfortable as possible and summoned the EMTs. Thank God, nothing was broken, and her vital signs were OK. She didn’t have to go to the hospital this time.
Yes, aging happens, and sometimes it isn’t much fun, but as Christians we believe we will be welcomed — spots and all — into our Father’s house, where a room has been prepared for each of us.
Moreover, we never know when God will be able to make use of us down here. As the late British novelist Muriel Spark wrote, “Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of life it may occur.”
Indeed, the Bible speaks of how we can “bear fruit even in old age.” (Psalm 92:15)
Even if from a spotty tree.
Paul Thomas Moore is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Mary Louise attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.