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Young At Heart
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Recently, I watched a great documentary titled, Young at Heart. It follows the journey of a man in his forties, who has made it his life's work to revitalize the lives of elderly men and women living in retirement and nursing homes. He gives them the chance to make music. He gathers the men and women together into a large meeting hall, where they practice the chosen songs. They sing the songs in an improvisational choir style that really is quite amazing!

They sing to a crowd of wet-eyed inmates at the local jail. They tour local music theaters, and even go on a world tour, with roaring crowds and sold out tickets at each stop.

Watching this documentary reminded me of a dear old friend of mine, God rest his soul, who I had the privilege of working with for two years. He was living in a retirement community, and I was in my early twenties working for a volunteer service where, along with a group of elderly men and women, we collated and sent out thousands of religious tracts and tapes. He was part of the crew, and he had more energy than I did! He was well into his eighties, bent over, frail, but always happy. He would tell me jokes, stories about his youth, his days as a teacher, and his triumphs and his failures, all the while singing songs of praise and providing joy to all around him.

Near Death

Very early one morning, my boss came over and told me that my good ole buddy was very ill and near death. I was shocked! I didn't even know he was sick. He was always so happy, and so energetic. I found out that he'd been fighting cancer for most of the time I worked with him.

He wanted to see me, so I went to his room at the nursing home, and there he lay, face pale and sunken, with open sores, and hooked to a breathing apparatus. He looked up at me and smiled, still cracking jokes, still showing joy even from the pain of his deathbed. He thanked me for being a great work buddy, great listener and friend.“I had the greatest time working with you” he said. I told him I felt the same, that I learned more about life from him than anyone else I knew. He died later that night.

I shed a few tears as I watched Young At Heart, thinking of my friend and how he loved to sing and how much joy he brought to me and those around him.

We must never forget what a wealth of joy, knowledge, and love we can find when we spend time with those who have come before us. We mustn't forget them in the dark halls of nursing homes and retirement centers, but reach out to them, spend time with them, and when we do, we will find joy and stay young at heart.

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By Benjamin DuBose. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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