‘I am worried, Mom,’ she said to me, back in March, when life was normal.
I was concerned. It’s never a happy thing to have a child who is worried. After all, once you are a parent you are always a parent no matter how old your child is. The concerns change, but they are always there.
“Why?” I asked, encouraging her to go on and share it all with her mother.
“Because of this virus. It seems to be worst for the elderly, and two members of my family are in their 90’s …”
There was a pause. But before I could respond she continued.
“And then there’s you.”
What? Wait a minute. Me? A quick assessment of my age confirmed her comment. I am classed as ‘elderly’.
I silently said a word of six letters I won’t type in this post. She was right. I am elderly.
Now, let’s get this straight. I don’t feel elderly. I may not have quite as much energy as I used to have. I may not walk as fast, or as far, but I am quite capable of running my own life, making my own decisions, getting to where I want to go, leaving and returning when I want to do so.
Until this tiny virus turned the whole world – not just my world, but the whole world – upside down. It classified me. Elderly.
Now I am vulnerable. I am in an age group from 60 to infinity (which sort of makes me even more ‘one of a crowd’ than before). I am told where I can go; what I can buy; who I can see (nobody). Even with the easing of the lockdown in South Africa on 1 May, I will only be able to walk between 6 and 9 a.m. Just when I was beginning to enjoy the lazy start to my day and the lie-in with coffee and a journal, or a book.
It gets light at 7 here. Wait – that’s an hour into exercise time! And it will be later next week and the week after. It’s cooling down too. I’m not sure I want to walk in the dark cool morning when I have the whole of the rest of the day to do so in glorious sunshine if I had my choice. But that’s the law and I will need to abide by it.
If I am allowed, as an elderly person, to go out at all. That’s not clear yet.
The emoji at the bottom of this post tells me it is informative, informal and optimistic. Good. Because if you were to ask me how I feel about the new level of restrictions I would say optimistic. Yes, I know we are still locked down. But some people will be able to start earning again to put food on their tables; some people will be able to run off their surplus energy, children included if families are organised enough to get them out and back by 9 am. Some people will move outside into the sunshine from their flats for the first time in many weeks.
But then, what do I know? For I am one of the elderly. And yet the wisdom that age has provided has enabled me to see God’s hand in this both personally and universally as people turn to Him. So I can join in with the William Young Fullerton, the hymnist who wrote his hymn in about 1920, just after the First World War and the Spanish Flu epidemic. His final two verses say:
I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
How He will claim His earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of east and west, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendour
When He the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.
I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to heaven, and heaven to earth, will answer:
At last, the Savior, Savior of the world, is King.
Elderly or not … This I know! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!