Some years ago we took our nearly teenaged son to the doctor. We did so because he was complaining of aches and pains all over his body.
He was not showing signs of sickness or any overt reason for feeling as he reported feeling. Yet we were convinced that his pains were real. With some trepidation we awaited the results of the examination.
With a smile on his face the doctor announced there was nothing wrong with him other than “good old fashioned growing pains.”
Who knew there was such a possible diagnosis from a medical doctor? We had heard the expression, and likely used it ourselves, but a medical diagnosis? Wow!
I heard echoes of the diagnosis some years later when I took my mother to see her doctor. She was complaining of aches and pains all over her body. Again we were convinced that her pains were real, but we could not see any physical reasons for them.
She went into the doctor’s office with fear of what she would hear and came out with a big smile. “The doctor said there is nothing wrong with me. So I asked him what the aches and pains were all about?
Do you know what he said?” “No, what did he say?”
“He said Marion, there is nothing wrong with you, you are just old.”
Who knew? A medical diagnosis for pains from growing old! Wow! On so many levels “growing old pains are real.” They can be expressed physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
So enjoy the aging process as much as my friend Kathleen did. In her late eighties at the time, she was having lunch with her friends at the church, when I was aware of loud laughter coming from the room. Playfully I went into the room and asked what all the noise was about and Kathleen said, “We are laughing at the silliness of old age.”
Laughing at old age is a useful insight as we seek to help those we care for and about with the growing old pains.
About Jim Stinson
I first became an ordained member of the New York Conference of the United Methodist Church fifty years ago. Through my time with the pastoral ministry, I worked extensively with older adults, many of whom were members of my congregation. I also served as the Director of Spiritual Life for United Methodist Homes from July 2002 until my retirement in July 2015, providing guidance and support to residents, family members, and staff. I love reminding people that “old” is not a dirty word and encourage others to adopt a healthy perspective on aging. I am also the author of a book, Just Because I Am Old – A Practical and Theological Guide To Caring, which was recently published in 2014.
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