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A Zest for Living
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Recently, a young friend took me to lunch: a celebratory event. She was happy about an accolade I was fortunate enough to receive. Our time together refreshed me. I enjoyed observing the liveliness in her lovely blue eyes, as I listened to her exuberance in living the Christian life.

She was a former writing student of mine. She told me that taking my class made a difference in her life. She’s not the first student who has told me this. It’s gratifying to know as I grow old that I’m able to pass on skills to help others. And it’s amazing how the appreciation of these students nullifies my aging encumbrances.

Yet it doesn’t have to be a young student to do this, any age student, who discovers themselves as a writer after taking any instruction I’m privileged to share with them, has the same effect on me. They energize me to keep on teaching, especially when I hear them say, with confidence, “I am a writer!” I rejoice with them when they make their sales and see their work published. Even the students who don’t plan to be employed with their new skill or to freelance but just want to write well as a family archivist or for non-income volunteer projects excite me, as they use what they’ve learned to benefit others.

Knew Her Words

There are so many skills that we who are aging can share with others. A skill that I learned from a dear friend helped me as a writer. She wasn’t a writer, but she really knew her words—and what they mean. It’s not much worth to know a word if you don’t know it’s meaning. We were Scrabble buddies. Believe me, I seldom beat her at the game. I’ll never forget the first new word I learned from her: ort. Do you know what it means? Please look it up if you don’t.

Eloise lived until her 103rd year. We played Scrabble until her 99th year—and if we’d remained in the same town until her death, I’m sure she’d still have held the upper hand at Scrabble. We wrote letters back and forth until a few weeks before her passing, letters that revealed her brain was still as young as ever. Her example taught me that word skills are a definite way to keep a young mind.

She also enjoyed teaching crochet. She said it kept her mind young.

Most of all, she enjoyed teaching piano students, though she had ceased teaching students by the time I met her. She continued playing until shortly before her passing, just as she kept at her crocheting. She set an example as one who knew how to stay young and help others do the same. She knew the word ort but she lived the opposite of its small meaning. She lived big and long, passing on skills and a zest for living. With it all, she wrapped it with love, staying “young” until the end.

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By Betty Kossick. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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