Last week I helped with a little party to celebrate the 96th birthday of a friend. She is widowed and has no children. Just three days later, she was experiencing breathing difficulties and chest pains whenever she walked a long distance.
When I arrived at her senior apartment with a borrowed wheelchair to take her to the doctor, she didn’t even fuss. This fiercely independent woman would normally put up a fight about riding in a wheelchair, preferring to push her walker through the long halls of the medical office. But on this day, she just sank into the wheelchair and mumbled a word of gratitude.
Later she had a series of tests including an EKG. The doctor determined that her heart was in pretty good condition for someone her age and that she was suffering from angina. As he wrote a prescription, my friend announced, “Well, it’s pretty simple. I’ll live ’till I die.”
She smiled. I smiled. The doctor looked up, unsure if it was OK to smile or not. Seeing our faces, he quickly broke into a wide grin.
It was a profound statement I thought. Living until you die. Regrettably, there are people of all ages who have already drawn the shades on living, as if the final curtain has fallen. They have little interest in learning something new or in helping others. Regrettably they just go through the motions of life without investing themselves fully.
I began to think about my friend’s attitude. She knows she might die today, tomorrow or a year from now. But until then, she’s going to live. Engaged in the world and grateful for the blessings of a long life.