Wisdom isn’t the only thing that comes with age.

“I’m going to get medicine. I don’t need a shot,” Big Hank, my grandfather on my dad’s side, argued.

“Henry, you have a prescription to fill and you have to get a shot,” Mimi Jackie, my grandmother, replied.

“Oh… Well are you sure,” Hank inquired. “Did the doctor say that?”

“Yes Henry,” Jackie insisted, in a frustrated tone.

This continued for another five minutes. Big Hank asked a different version of a question that had already been answered, Mimi Jackie responded, Hank sat with a confused look on his face and then rephrased the question. Once my grandmother handed me the empty pill bottle and the doctor’s order for the shot I helped Hank out of his chair and we made our way to the car. I opened the driver’s  door, climbed in, and started the engine. Big Hank opened the passenger door and sat down in the seat with his back facing me. He turned his body toward the windshield. Next he grabbed his left leg with both hands, lifted it into the car, and then repeated the same process for the right leg.

“I’m losing it,” he said, almost in a whisper.

This was not something that I had expected him to talk about. For all of my 22 years on earth I have known my grandfather to be a fairly stubborn man. He was always tough. He played football in high school and at VMI. He was in the military for most of his life after that. Hank was rarely ever wrong, but it was even more rare for him to admit it when he was. He was never mean or rude, but he was never the type to give up either.

It was saddening to actually hear him admit to losing his mind, even if I already knew it to be true. I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose your independence. Hank had been a pilot in the army. A man who took giant metal machines into the sky and returned them safely after every flight. This is certainly a skill that I do not possess. Most people don’t. How can a man who was once capable of so much be so limited now?

The fact is that the effects of time are inescapable. It makes me think about my own future. The mental and physical abilities that I have now will eventually fade away. This thought is important for two main reasons. First, it makes me mindful of how I am spending these temporary gifts. Second, I am reminded that even my own body and mind will eventually betray me. Instead of relying on my own present ability, I must draw closer to God, who offers me eternity.

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