“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90, verse 10). Last evening a woman offered me her seat on the subway – the #2 uptown express, which I had pressed onto at Times Square.
“Would you like to sit down?” she said, standing and coming forward as if to help me to her seat. It was impossible to pretend she meant someone else, although I didn’t have a cane, I wasn’t wheezing and I try not to stoop.
“No, thank you,” I murmured, gripping the pole, with a look that led her to say, “I hope I didn’t offend you” as she retook her seat.
She had features and an accent that could have been out of the Middle East (or southern Europe), and she was of an age, although younger than mine, that I still dream about dating, a fantasy I am now reexamining.
When she went back to her iPhone, I looked furtively at the window. I didn’t think I looked that old.
“How did I get to be so old?” my mother once asked me, and the answer, of course, is because she was lucky, although, at the time, she didn’t see it that way.
Aging is a funny business. We know it’s coming, and yet we aren’t ready for it, and the truth is that, while we are all one day closer to our death than we were yesterday, we also have one more day to live.
I’ll likely never see that kind woman (and her New York immigrant values) again, but I’m standing taller today, and grateful I still can.
“So teach us," the psalm continues, “to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (verse 12).