Smooth at 87

Last week I was able to spend some time away from the office, attending a memorial service for a family member, a conference in Nashville, and visiting family and friends along the way.  I drove just under 2000 miles in 8 days away.  In all that driving, there are only so many radio stations and CDs in which to listen, so I took advantage of the travel time to sit in silence and …. think.

I thought about my father-in-law George, a quiet, Godly man.  George just turned 87 years old, and his body is gradually reacting to years of hard work, dozens of surgeries, and the toll of time.  His blood, kept artificially thin to prevent a rupture in an aortic aneurism, also keeps his body artificially cold.  We sat last week in his den; George cocooned in thermal t-shirt, a long-sleeved dress shirt, and a sweater vest.  The temperature was easily 85 in the house; George was cold.  I sat in shorts and a tshirt, and thought I would suffocate.

But even at 87, I looked at his eyes, still bright with wit and determination.  His hair, now turned more loose than white, is still wispy.  But, I couldn’t stop looking at his skin.  The skin of his forehead, his face, is unusually smooth and tight.  George has had many small places of skin cancer removed surgically from his head and face, and those places are pink and healthy and so… smooth.  I couldn’t help but think of all the older folks I know whose faces are as wrinkled as if cultivated for planting season.  The lines and crow’s feet and circles belie their ages… but not George.

The more I think about it, it seems appropriate for George to look young because he is young at heart.  The devastation of a motorcycle accident 25 years ago, the subsequent surgeries,the falls, 2 brain surgeries, all his replacement parts- alltogether, it would seem that these would define his character, his personality.  But they don’t- his tender pink, smooth skin reflect his solid, even temperament; his quiet and steadfast love for his family and friends, his love for the Lord.  The walker that helps keep him mobile, the wheelchair that he sits in at the dinner table, the meds he takes for heart, for back, for legs, for blood, etc… define only the turns and twists in the road he has travelled, not the traveller himself.

Thanks, Grandpa, for your example.  Thanks for your daughter that I love so much.  Here’s to 87 more….

Life is Good!

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