This weekend my husband and I were having dinner at a lovely waterfront restaurant in Beaufort, SC. I had just completed a speaking event for a large group of older adults in a nearby town, and we were enjoying the end to a full day of activities. Suddenly a man seated at another table across the aisle from us leaned over to make a comment.
The man, likely in his mid-seventies, apologized for interrupting our dinner. He said that he and his female companion had been watching us for a long while with great interest. Since we seemed to be enjoying conversation with each other, they had surmised that we were not married. A quick glance at our wedding bands would say otherwise, of course. Mostly it seemed that they were intrigued with the idea that we were genuinely enjoying each other’s company. We laughed and assured them that we had been married for many years but that we still enjoyed talking and sharing thoughts with one another.
The episode got me to thinking about something I had told the group of older adults earlier in the day. People are always watching and learning from us, both good things and bad, no matter our age. Every day brings countless opportunities to model the fruit of the Spirit. People are watching to see how we treat the wait staff and thoughtless relatives. They are watching to see how we deal with the frustrations of physical decline and stress. They are watching to see how we live our lives in ordinary moments.
Earlier that day, an 87 year-old woman had introduced herself at the table where I was signing books. She said, “Until you spoke, I had never really thought about notion that I can still teach others with my life. It seemed my days of influence were already over. From here on, I am going to remember that people really are watching and learning.” Indeed they are.