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Laugh, Love, Learn
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A couple of years ago, solidly into my seventh decade, I took stock of myself, accepting that I’d had a good life, a loving and supportive spouse and family, and the joy of helping to care for our beloved grandchild. God had blessed us, blessed me, and now I would move serenely into old age, accepting what comes.

But I have a funny bone that refuses to comply. Children tickle it. Teenagers awe it. Friends and I can laugh together like youngsters who haven’t a care. Anyone who can awaken the joy, wonder and humor in life is a friend!

I help serve lunch in a 12-grade school. Smiles and laughter are contagious. At school I serve fruits and salads—the last items on the plate. Building salads at a student’s request—trying to remember what they like and don’t like—gives opportunities for smiles. I get so wrapped up in the sparkle of pleasure when I get it right that I feel 20 years younger. Alzheimer’s seems a long ways away in those moments.

A friend who served as chaplain in a retirement home told of talking about staying young. The question went around, “What do you do that keeps you young?”

One lady thought a long while and replied solemnly: “I didn’t know that I was young.” That brought a round of affectionate laughter which made them all feel younger.

Young Inside

Young is something that dwells inside, not in our outward appearance. My mother used to say that she always felt like she was 24 inside and had trouble recognizing the woman in her 80s looking at her from the mirror. “Children keep you young,” she often said as she welcomed neighborhood children and grandchildren into their home. Children brought smiles and laughter.

When they lived in Walla Walla, Washington, they had a large wooden swing on their front porch. Mom and Dad used to sit and hold hands on it at the end of the day. Neighbor kids often asked if they could swing. The swing was a great way for my parents to get to know the people in their neighborhood. Bonds of friendship became strong—something precious to our family as our parents aged.

A lady from church informed me on her 88th birthday that she was learning to knit—showed me her handiwork to prove it. “As long as you keep learning,” she insisted, “You won’t grow old.”

To an extent, that lady was right. Science has proven that brains don’t stop functioning when they get old or injured. The synapses try to find new ways to grow and connect as long as we keep giving them stimulus. Listen to music, cultivate friendships, take up a hobby or part-time job, learn something new. If you work hard and patiently enough at a new skill, your brain will build synapses for it.

As for me, Lord willing, the rocking chair will have to wait. I am much too busy having fun!

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines

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