More Than A Number

“Are you near your computer?” He asked me.

“Yes.”

“I need you to type in..”

He went into turbo speed talk, trying to give me a string of numbers and letters to put into the browser to get to a website.

“Wait,” I said.

He was on number or letter fifty, and I was still putting in one from the beginning. I was on the phone with a helpline representative.

“Are you at the portal?”

Like to leave earth? No. But sometimes I wish.

“No. I’m still trying to get what you said in.”

I went back and read off what I had been able to keep up with.

“Oh, ok. I didn’t know you were that far behind.”

He started off where I was, and I hit enter. I knew when I saw code error 404, it wasn’t going to work.

“It says that the link is broken. I can’t go to that site.”

“Well, I’m there, so I know it’s working.”

I went back to where we started.

“I will go through each letter and number one by one.”

“Okay,” I said.

“A as in apple. Do you have that now?”

For real, guy? You go from speed talk to now acting like I’m four years old.

“Yes. Got it.”

“Are you ready for the next one?” He said in soft tones so as not to mentally break me.

“Yes,” I said.

He went at a snail’s pace to ensure I didn’t miss anything.

“Did we make it?”

Like we were hiking a treacherous mountain.

When I am made to feel ‘old’, I recall what I have read in multiple publications: age is a mindset. Most of these are written by people from a long time ago in history and are dead, but their words make sense. When more than one person says something, and they are not associated, that is when you know you are on to the truth.

A year ago, while visiting my dad at his assisted living when restrictions were still in place, he proved this theory. He was in lockdown, so his meals were being delivered to his apartment, and there was no contact with the outside world, really.

I had arrived before noon to find him still in bed, fast asleep. His days and nights were mixed up, and I often found meals stacked up in his refrigerator untouched, which led me to believe he was sleeping around the clock.

I clicked on the tv trying to find Christmas music but landed on a community channel. I could hear music playing, and with his hearing being impaired, it was like a live band had suddenly rushed into the small space.

He slowly came around the corner and parked himself. I realized it was polka music, and he was all entranced because of his polish heritage. He used to play the accordion when he was young, so it didn’t take much to make him stop in his tracks, and he forgot all about eating.

Over the noise, he said,

“Look at all those old people dancing!”

They all appeared slightly younger than him, but who wants to ruin his perception?

“What song is this?” he asked. “I can’t tell.”

That type of music makes me cringe, so I didn’t inherit some of his DNA. But, out of some long-forgotten memory bank, I said,

“I think it’s called Help Me Make It Through the Night.”

“Help me make it through the night? These people are so old, they aren’t going to make it through this song!”

“At least they are up and moving. You barely made it out of bed today,” I said. He laughed.

When I fill out a survey that asks me my age range, and I’m at the first number in the series, there’s still something to celebrate as I check off the box. I wonder how I will feel when I’m in the last bracket like him?

While it might appear that the world has sped up, it’s really about keeping up with changes and learning new things.

Speaking into the remote control has been a monumental leap forward. I purposely say the wrong thing just to see where it will lead me. It takes its revenge, though, and refuses to hear what I have said correctly at other times. It’s a love/hate relationship. It knows we have no buttons to use like the older models, so it owns us.

Then there are those times when I hear someone of my age say,

“Rewind that video.”

“You know we don’t have VCRs anymore, right?” I say nicely. I can’t let this soul wander around so blatantly showing their age.

I asked my daughter when she knew I was no longer breezing through life.

“When I had to teach you how to copy and paste on your computer.”

And she said it real quick, like it was just minutes ago. So apparently, that was a pivotal point in my aging process.

Isn’t that why I had kids? To take all the guesswork out of life? If I can’t figure something out, I just hand it over, they give it back, and I am on to my next technical issue.

One of the things I do not like is when an older person who may be related to me is in the middle of a health crisis and says,

“Just wait until you are my age!”

They say this from their hospital bed like they will feel better knowing someone else in the future will be in the same poor condition. Misery loves company, and when someone doesn’t have the answers, they will pull you in to make themselves feel better. They are just hoping that you will start talking about the ailments that plague you.

I stopped being quietly polite along the way and will say I refuse whatever they are trying to make me believe. I have said back,

“We were designed to be in good health and heal. That is what God wants.”

That usually changes the direction of the conversation for the better. I realized I didn’t have to agree with something just because it was spoken. The ‘respect your elders’ idea is fine unless they talk negatively. It’s wise to counteract those ideas before they take root and replace them with thoughts like this from 3 John 2 that states,

God wants me to prosper and be in health, even as my soul prospers. (KJV)

Why expect to get sick just because your cousin Nancy did? If you look at what others in your bloodline have as a diagnosis and claim it for yourself, you will live out what you believe.

I was reminded over the summer that age can be positive when I visited a cave that was discovered in 1881 by two brothers. As I stood in the depths of the caverns that had existed for way longer than I had, and they were still growing and bringing to life various gems, it reminded me that even as we age, we can be useful.

The history of its existence was made up of many new discoveries as explorers found new passageways and hidden places. As they kept searching, they kept finding.

That is how your walk with God can be. You toss aside what the world says is so important, like the number of candles on your last birthday, and know that there are many things you haven’t even understood yet.

The space was treated with great reverence, and while on tour, we were told to be very careful along the way, so we brought no harm to it. We were many feet below the surface, and for some reason, it felt safe to me, not suffocatingly frightening.

“When a horrible tornado went through, the owners came down here because they knew they would be safe,” our guide told us.

One of the advantages of being a little further along the way is that you can provide security for someone who hasn’t been down the same road. You have had experiences, some good, some not, that can shed light and bring revelation to someone who needs help.

One thing is for sure. No, not taxes and death, but yes. Other than those, there will always be problems that need solving, which is why we are here. When you can stand firm in the face of adversity and when someone younger than you witnesses this, their faith is allowed to grow.

Don’t fall for the lie that you are no longer valid because you think you’re too elderly to be of any use anymore. Digits are used in our society for crowd control. Like at the DMV, when you are standing in a sea of humanity, you are looking at a ticket that says 3000, which signifies that is the year they will get around to you.

The message is sent many times over to us through media that once you hit a particular time of life, you might as well hang it up. It’s a lie, so don’t fall for it.

The world may tell you that, but to God, you are more than a number.

(You can handle being number 2..you are only one step away from being the first.)

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