Wheels of Old Age Featured Article

Wheels of Old Age

Beneath colorful paintings of young women in wide hats and swishing flowered dresses, chairs roll and jerk across the cold tiled floor as the withered legs of the passengers ride the wheels of old age.

The sparkle of youth is gone from their eyes, and their bent backs carry the burden of years gone by. A glimmer of hope shines from fading smiles as they offer up soft prayers.

Memories of lemonade summers and starry nights live behind those lonely eyes. Their wheels stop beneath pastels of spring gardens, and a memory is stirred of cutting daisies and planting peas.

Framed pictures of girls walking with parasols, barefoot in the sand, adorn the walls, but eyes no longer focus clearly on the slender figures. In those chambers behind silent ears, the sound of rain, music from a carrousel, and the laughter of children remains from long ago.

Their heads slump as the wheels carry their frail bodies up and down the halls. They were once young parents, laughing and playing with their children. They sacrificed their own well-being to raise children, educate them, and teach them their prayers. Now, they wheel alone through silent corridors that ooze with the scent of old age as they murmur liturgical phrases.

Many Bible stories learned from childhood linger in their cloudy memories: Jonah and the whale, Joseph and the colorful coat, Daniel in the lions’ den, Ruth and Naomi. Ruth’s love and devotion to her elderly widowed mother-in-law and her unselfish vows to go with Naomi express reverence as well as love for her aging mother-in-law.

Dances, parties, weddings, and births are painted in their memories. A lost lover, a found happiness, joy, sadness, and pain have been part of their long lives. There are souls behind those lonely eyes, and their wisdom is masked by wrinkles on their brows. They have seen rainbows and wide, full moons. They have observed purple sunsets and amber fields. With wing-like grace they have walked mountains and streams.

They are not empty vessels. Their memories are filled with sights, sounds, and the tastes of lives they have lived.

In their youth, they rode horse-drawn carriages, and in their middle years they witnessed men walk on the moon. Some served in faraway places and donated blood, funds, hours, and prayers to many worthwhile causes.

They have learned on their long spiritual journey that God has not forgotten them. Deep in their souls is a seed of a memory reminding them the Creator listens to their every prayer, blesses, and comforts them.

They wait patiently for the eternal peace promised them as they ride the wheels of old age up and down the silent corridors.

Carol Kehlmeier writes from Westerville, OH.

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