Tag Archives: age

“He Was Gathered to His People, Old and Full of Years”



What my wife had in mind, a long time ago now, was simply to collect and display some old family photographs. Specifically, she wanted me to scan an old photograph of my maternal grandparents, a little picture that has long sat on a shelf in my study at the church. So I did.

I knew I’d had that little framed photo for a very long time, but I’d forgotten just how long. When I carefully pulled it out of its frame to place it on the scanner, I noticed the handwritten inscription on the back of the picture. I recognized the distinctive hand immediately. It was Grandmother Key’s writing, for sure.

“To Curtis Kline, 1965. Granddaddy and Grandmother Key.”

One look at that script launched me on a trip down Memory Lane. I remembered my little grandmother’s gentle but raspy voice and how she always called me “Curtis Kline.”

You know how names work. They morph a bit. To a couple of brothers and a few friends, I’m “Curt.” To some of my larger family, I’m “C. K.” And I come to “Curtis” just fine.

But to Grandmother Key, I was always “Curtis Kline.” And, as I saw that fountain-penned script, I could almost hear Grandmother saying to my mother, “This is for Curtis Kline for Christmas, and here’s one for Jimmy.”

You see, I’m pretty sure my younger brother Jim got one, too. And I’m sure his would be inscribed to “Jimmy.”

Looking closely at that picture, I was also struck by the fact that, though I’ve always looked something like Granddaddy Key, the resemblance is definitely increasing. The mouth. The eyes. Well, the whole face.

And, yes, increasingly, the white hair! I never knew his hair to be any other color. He had all of his hair, thick and full, but he ran out of pigment early. For as long as I remember, Granddaddy’s hair was snowy white cotton.

Granddaddy ranched and trucked all of his life. He died in 1975. Six years later, in 1981, Grandmother followed. But Grandmother and Granddaddy don’t seem that long gone. They’re still a big part of who I am every day.

I’ve always sort of liked the way the writers of some books of the Old Testament, after they’ve told the story of someone’s life, will say something like this: “And he was gathered to his people.” Sometimes they add this further description: “old and full of years.”

I don’t think I’m all that old yet. I will admit that claiming to be “middle-aged” is becoming a little tougher than it once was. I’m 58 now. It could be the middle, I suppose, but I very much doubt I’ll make it to 116. At least, with all of my heart, I hope not. Enough really is enough, and I’m looking forward to something much better.

I’ll admit it! I’m in the process of filling up with years, but I don’t think I’m quite full just yet.

But, you know, being “gathered to my people,” in God’s good time, strikes me as not at all a bad thing.


      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


Too Old? Only If Your Imagination Has Withered



I turned 57 the other day. No big deal, even though 57 is widely recognized as a serious milestone.

I’m sure if you “Google” it, you’ll find all sorts of articles and blogs where “Baby Boomer” folks like me wax philosophic about the big 57. My generation has always been gifted when it comes to navel-gazing about things that don’t matter.

Truth be told, I seemed to skid right on past the big event with barely a bump in the road. That may have been because my math skills are nonexistent. I spent a good bit of last year sitting on the fence between 56 and 57, literally and figuratively. I was fairly confident that I was one or the other.

But just to set my mind at ease and to stay razor sharp mentally, from the top of the fence I stopped a couple or three times to do a little math (the only kind I ever do). Since I suspected that I was already 57, it was nice to discover that I was younger than I thought.

Yes, I did that several times. You’re right, of course. I should have just written it down—scrawled “56” in big letters on a Post It note and then stuck the sticky in the stacked up “leaning tower” stack of those notes I collect to keep me right on top of important events.

It’s a pleasure to dig down through that sticky pile just often enough to get to throw away the half of the notes connected to monumental events that have already happened that I can now forget about. And it’s gratifying to know that I’ve saved time and been ahead of the game by forgetting about them already, long before a less gifted forgetter could have been expected to forget about them. A guy who can’t remember if he is 56 or 57 is world-class talented in the “forgetting” category.

I guess I also forgot to be alarmed by the fact that I kept forgetting the result of my math. I’ve been too busy living life and aging to worry much about aging.

But two things—make that three—cause me a little anxiety.

First, I’ve lived long enough to see styles returning that I thought had mercifully expired at the end of the seventies. Once around was more than enough, thank you. (I’m immensely thankful that our styles weren’t tattooed on.)

Second, I’m hoping that maybe a shaky season or two during my forties will count as a “mid-life” crisis. It’s not only too late to go through one now—I can’t spare the time—the math worries me. If I had one now, at 57, would “mid-life” indicate that I’d have to hang around until I’m 114? I’ve got far better things to do and a much better place to be.

Third, though there is no doubt at all that the best thing about being 57 is getting to jump into a second childhood with your grandchildren, those little grandfolks are starting to grow too tall. I’m afraid my heart will break if the magic fairy princess castle out in our back yard ever turns back into just a shed.

What’s “too old”? It’s when your imagination withers and your heart starts to calcify. No wonder the Eternal One hugged children and said that the way to be saved is to be like them. At any age.


       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

How Do You Feel About Growing Older?

January. I think of it as a birthday month. My dad’s. My oldest granddaughter’s. And mine.

Last weekend we helped celebrate that sweet little beauty’s sixth birthday. My own 56th was a week earlier.

Fifty-six is not all that significant a milestone, though I’ve noticed that a lot of survey-type forms bump people into another category once they hit 55 or 56. But I don’t see it as a very noticeable bump in the road. I felt exactly the same the moment after I reached 56 as I did the moment before when I was 55. I’d actually spent a good bit of that year thinking I was 54. I’ve never been very good at math.

At one point in my life (was I maybe 15?), I reckoned that the perfect age must be 30 or so. I remember thinking that 30 would be old enough to have life pretty much figured out and young enough to have at least a few good years left. I also knew that theoretically I’d likely live to see the world’s odometer slide past 2000. I’d be over 40 and probably starting to decline, but 2000 seemed a long way off. I know better now.

Yes, 30 was a perfectly fine age. But, no, (are you surprised?) I didn’t even nearly have life figured out at that age. Maybe, by the time I was 30, I was beginning to realize that life holds many, many more questions than I’d ever imagined. But maybe I was also beginning to realize that life’s questions that truly matter can probably be numbered on one hand, and that knowing the answer to just a couple of the truly big ones puts all the others into their proper places of relative unimportance.

And now I’m 56, and we’re thirteen years past 2000, and, yes, I’m sure I’m in decline. But I realize now that I began declining even before I began declining—(Latin nouns, that is) in Mr. Craddock’s 8th grade Latin class in Amarillo’s Sam Houston Junior High. You see, if I understand the physiology involved, we all begin declining pretty much from the moment of birth. So I can deal with that.

No, 30 wasn’t the perfect age. And 39 wasn’t. Nor was 18 or 22 or 32 or 45. I don’t think 56 is, either, though I haven’t been 56 long enough to know yet for sure. But it seems okay so far, and I know now for sure that grandparenthood much more than compensates for any of 56’s down-sides!

So far, you see, I’ve enjoyed some fine blessings at every age (none as much fun as grandparenthood!). They’ve all been, in their own ways, very good, and I’m genuinely thankful for that. At the same time, I mean no disrespect to any of the ages in my rear view mirror to tell you truly that I have no desire at all to go back.

Yes, I’ve done the math. Even being pretty generous, I’m not sure how much longer I can claim to be “middle-aged.” I neither expect nor desire to live to see birthday 112, so I’m well past my life’s mid-summer, even barring the kind of surprises that really should surprise no mortal.

Faith makes a very practical difference here. I can’t know what will happen tomorrow in the story of my life, but I know the end of the story. I believe God’s promise that once His people have finished their chapters here, the very best part of the story remains—and it will never end. If I was (perish the thought!) 18 again, I’d be that much farther away from the story I can hardly wait to read!


You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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