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Quotations on Aging and Dying
All the passages below are taken from George Sweeting’s book “The Joy of Successful Aging” published in 2002.
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF AGING
It's nice to be here; when you're 99years old it's nice to be anywhere.
A joyous occasion is never quite as wonderful as when it becomes a memory.
PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER
Virtues of Aging, p.22
Life begins at 40---but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times.
Children are a great help. They are a comfort in your old age. And they help you reach it faster, too.
There are three ages to mankind: youth, middle age, and... my, you're looking good.
He's so old... his blood type was discontinued.
You can take no credit for beauty at 16. But if you are beautiful at 60, it will be your soul's own doing.
Whatever poet, orator, or sage may say of it, old age is still old age.
To me---old age is fifteen years older than I am.
BERNARD MANNES BARUCH
Old age is when you know all the answers ... but nobody asks you any questions.
LAWRENCE J. PETER
I'm 65 and I guess that puts me in with the geriatrics, but if there were fifteen months in every year, I'd only be 52.
Old friends are best. King James used to call for his old shoes; they were the easiest for his feet.
[When David Ben-Gurion came out of retirement for the ninth time, he was asked by an American why he bothered to retire]
"It's like those going out of business' signs you see along Seventh Avenue---a chance to unload stock he doesn't want, hire a new staff, and make a different contract with the union. "
Life is 10percent what you make it and 90percent how you take it.
My grandfather would look through the obituary columns and say to me, "Strange, isn't it, how everybody seems to die in alphabetical order."
By the time a man gets to greener pastures he can't climb the fence.
I'm not getting old. My mirror is just getting wrinkled.
Old age: When actions creak louder than words.
When a man's friends begin to compliment him about looking younger, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.
I will not make age an issue ... I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.
At age 73 concerning his 56-year-old opponent, Walter Mondale
October 21, 1984, debate
SERIOUS QUOTATIONS ABOUT AGING
We believe that aging is not a reason for despair but a basis for hope, not a slow decaying but a gradual maturing, not a fate to be undergone but a chance to be embraced.
HENRY J. M. NOUWEN & WALTER GAFFNEY
Aging: The Fulfilment of Life
New York: Image Book, Doubleday, 1976, p.20
Preparation for old age should begin not later than one's teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.
People are anxious to save up financial means for old age; they should also be anxious to prepare a spiritual means for old age.... Wisdom, maturity, tranquility do not come all of a sudden when we retire.
ABRAHAM JOSHUA HERSCHEL
If a thing is old, it is a sign that it was fit to live. Old families, old customs, old styles survive because they are fit to survive. The guarantee of continuity is quality. Submerge the good in a flood of the new, and the good will come back to join the good which the new brings with it. Old-fashioned hospitality, old-fashioned politics, old-fashioned honor in business had qualities of survival. These will come back.
What if someone had decided that Pablo Picasso, Pablo Casals, or Michelangelo, still producing in their 80s and 90s, had "no future " when they became 70 years old?
MARGRET C. ELWELL
Age should not have its face lifted, but it should rather teach the world to admire wrinkles as the etchings of experience and the firm line of character.
RALPH BARTON PERRY
The cure for age is interest and enthusiasm and work.... Life's evening will take its character from the day which has preceded it. You will always find joy in the evening ... if you've spent the day well.
Old age is just as important and meaningful apart of God's perfect will as is youth. God is every bit as interested in the old as the young.
J. O. SANDERS
Dr. E. Stanley Jones suggested the following steps for continuing growth in old age:
1. Don't retire. Change your occupation ... do something you have always wanted to do.
2. Learn something new every day.
3. Set yourself to be gracious to someone every day.
4. Don't let yourself grow negative; be positive.
5. Look around you for something for which to be grateful every day. Gratitude will become a settled habit.
6. Now that your bodily activities are slowing down, let your spiritual activities increase. Old age provides increased opportunity for prayer.
7. Keep laying up as the years come and go to "the good store" of which Jesus spoke. This "good store" is the depository of every thought, motive, action, attitude which we drop into the subconscious mind. It can be the deep subsoil into which we can strike our roots in old age and blossom at the end like a night-blooming cereus.
E. STANLEY JONES,
Nashville: Abington, 1953, p.313
Your manner of life now is already determining your life in those years of old age and retirement, without your realizing it even, and perhaps without your giving enough thought to it. One must therefore prepare oneself for retirement.
Learn to Grow
Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1972, p.13
In order to make a success of old age, one must begin it earlier, and not try to postpone it as long as possible. In the middle of life we must stop to think, to organize our existence with an eye to a still distant future, instead of allowing ourselves to be entirely sucked into the professional and social whirl. It is then that it is important to give place little by little to less external activities, less technical and more cultural, which will survive the moment of retirement.
Learn to Grow
Louisville: Westminster/ John Knox Press, 1972, p.12
It is only logical that if God's will is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2), then complaining about it or rebelling against it is out. If God's will is acceptable, it must be accepted.
J. O. SANDERS
ON WAKING IN PRISON
O God, early in the morning I cry to You
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on You:
I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness,
But with You there is light;
I am lonely, but You do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help;
I am restless, but with You there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience;
I do not understand Your ways,
But You know the way for me.
DIETRICH BONHOEFFER (1906-1945),
while awaiting execution in a Nazi prison
You haven't lost anything when you know where it is. Death can hide but not divide.
I'm not afraid to die. I'm looking forward to it. I know the Lord has His arms wrapped around this big sparrow.
Life is a hard fight, a struggle, a wrestling with the principle of evil, hand to hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way is disputed. The night is given us to take breath, to pray, to drink deep at the fountain of power. The day, to use the strength which has been given us, to go forth to work with it till the evening.
Since General MacArthur made his famous statement, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away, " interesting quotations have been proposed. Such as,
Old postmen never die, they just lose their Zip.
Old scoutmasters never die, they just smell that way.
Old deans never die, they just lose their faculties.
Old doctors never die, they just lose their patience.
Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.
The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration but its donation.
CORRIE TEN BOOM
If you draw near the end in somber circumstances, remember that as a faithful child of God you await promotion. Who knows but that the brightest jewel in your crown is for that lonely afternoon and night when all seemed lost but you believed anyway. Remember John the Baptist in prison and John on Patmos and countless millions who have been on that road before you. Remember Mr. Fearing in Bunyan's immortal Pilgrim's Progress, who dreaded Jordan all his days. But when he reached it, the water was a record low, and he got across
"not much above wet-shod. " The last chapter in life can be the best.
As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.
LEONARDO DA VINCI
Lord Jesus Christ,
You are the only source of health for the living, and You promise eternal life to the dying. I entrust myself to Your holy will. If You wish me to stay longer in this world, I pray that You will heal me of my present sickness. If You wish me to leave this world, I readily lay aside this mortal body, in the sure hope of receiving an immortal body which shall enjoy everlasting health. I ask only that You relieve me of pain, that whether I live or die, I may rest peaceful and contented.
Book of Prayers
What is dying? Just what it is to put off a garment. For the body is about the soul as a garment; and after laying this aside for a short time by means of death, we shall resume it again with more splendor.
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407),
Early Christian saint
Death always waits. The door of the hearse is never closed.
God buries His workmen but carries on His work.
Because I could not stop for death
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
EMILY ELIZABETH DICKINSON
Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations,
Wheaton, IL:Tyndale House, 1990, 127.
Christ taught an astonishing thing about physical death: not merely that it is an experience robbed of its terror but that as an experience it does not exist at all. To "sleep in Christ," like one that wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
When Michelangelo, already well along in years, was discussing life with an old friend, the latter commented, "Yes, after such a good life, it's hard to look death in the eye." "Not at all!" contradicted Michelangelo. "Since life was such a pleasure, death coming from the same great Source cannot displease us."
I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know, the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.
Don't allow yourself to feel old; don't give up your interest in life; cultivate a hobby; have a game now and then with your grandchildren, or someone else's; don't think about the end---God has lovingly planned that, and you will be as unaware of your passing out as you were of your coming.
F. B. MEYER
THE OLD PLAYER
Call him not old, whose visionary brain
Holds o’er the past its undivided reign.
For him in vain the envious seasons roll
Who bears eternal summer in his soul.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
People are reluctant to talk about old age and death because they are afraid of emotion, and they willingly avoid the things they feel most emotional about, though these are the very things they most need to talk about.
Learn to Grow Old
Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1972, p.217
Christian faith does not involve repressing one's anxiety in order to appear strong. On the contrary, it means recognizing one's weakness, accepting the inward truth about oneself, confessing one's anxiety, and still to believe, that is to say that the Christian puts his trust not in his own strength, but in the grace of God.
Learn to Grow Old
Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1972, p.222
I will say with Lorenzo de Medici that those who do not hope for another life are always dead to this one.
Of dying C. S. Lewis said, "You needn't worry about not feeling brave. Our Lord didn't. ... Remember the scene in Gethsemane. How thankful I am that when God became man, He did not choose to become a man of iron nerves; that would not have helped weaklings like you and me nearly so much. "
THE QUOTABLE LEWIS
Letters of C. S. Lewis, 1953
J. I. Packer reminds us, "Dying well is one of the good works to which Christians are called, and He will enable us who serve Him, to die well." We can finish with grace. [126-138]
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