Wednesday, 7 July 2010

60.



Father Ignatius was very observant. He knew most of his parishioners by name and he noticed their moods, habits and behaviors and he reacted to them according to circumstances.

One early evening he came out of the Sacristy and he noticed that Mrs Holingsworth was arranging the flowers on the Altar and by the numerous statues of Saints around the church silently. She usually hummed her favorite hymns under her breath whilst working; but not today.

“Everything OK Denise?” he asked with a smile.

“I suppose so Father,” she replied glumly, “I was just thinking that’s all …”

“That’s what I like about women,” he joked, “you can multi-task … we men cannot think and work at the same time …”

She said nothing.

“Is there a problem I can help with?” asked the priest tentatively.

“Well Father,” she replied as she stopped cutting the stems of the flowers to make them the same size, “I’ve received a letter from my doctor … and it upset me …”

“Do you wish to talk about it …” he asked gently.

“It’s nothing serious … the doctor said that as I am now over 60 she invited me for a medical check-up … just as a precaution …”

“Well … what’s the problem …” asked Father Ignatius, for once missing the point entirely.

“It just brought it back to me Father … I am 60 … or rather I was 60 four months ago, and I told no one about it … I’d put it at the back of my mind … and now here’s a letter reminding me once again of my age … I mean … who wants to be 60?”

“I’m sure there are many people under 60 who hope to reach that age some day …” said the priest gently, “and there are many others over 60 who wish they could turn back the clock … but that’s not the problem is it Denise?”

“Well Father … I look at my life and wonder …” she stopped for a while and bit her lip, “my dear husband used to say that I will be as beautiful when I’m 60 as the day he first met me … we married when we were 20 you know …”

“I’m sure you are as beautiful as you were then,” he said trying to comfort her.

“Oh Father … are you allowed to say beautiful to a woman … you being a priest and all …”

“I didn’t realize that some words are forbidden to priests …” said Father Ignatius jokingly, “all right, I take it back. I am sure you look as you did when you first met Daniel … in fact he is looking down from Heaven right now and he agrees with me …”

She smiled finishing the flower arrangements on the Altar, and packing the debris of stems and wrapping papers to throw away.

“Look Denise … we all get at some point in our lives when we look back in fondness and look forward in trepidation perhaps,” said Father Ignatius calmly, “this is only natural. It is part of our human emotions.

“The trick though is not to dwell too much on the past or dread the future. We should trust Jesus to see us through what is to come … just as He did in the past, even though we were not aware of it …

“We should aim to live for the present … and live it as fully as possible … that’s what God wants for us. He wants us to enjoy life … not endure it in dread and trepidation …”

“Thank you …” she said managing another weak smile.

“You know Denise … there are many people spending their lives staring at tomorrow rather than living today. You know the kind … people who have their favorite set of teapot, cups and saucers made of the finest china … yet they do not use it … they keep it for a special occasion … or their favorite dinner plates and cutlery or whatever … and they still wait for that special occasion … for the day when the Queen or the Pope might visit perhaps …”

Father Ignatius smiled and then went on.

“But I can assure you that the Queen or the Pope will never visit your house … they are far too busy … so enjoy your tea set, cutlery or whatever you have right now …

“Don’t fret about your age … or what the future might bring … celebrate your achievements today, and move forward hand in hand with God.”

He stopped again to gauge her reaction.

“Do you know what I do when I’m feeling a little down?” he asked her.

She shook her head silently.

“I go across the road and get some freshly fried fish and chips from the shop opposite. Nothing makes me feel better … and it improves my waistline …

“In fact that’s where I’m going right now … Mrs Davenport has asked me to get some fish and chips as she was too busy today to prepare supper for Father Donald and I … Care to join the three of us for a fish supper … with salt and vinegar?”

“Yes please …” she replied smiling broadly.

17 comments:

  1. I could sure use a Fr. Ignatius every once in a while when I'm feeling old. I think the trick is to stop looking in mirrors to examine for wrinkles and gray. You're as young as you feel, not as young as you look...is that right?

    How are fish and chips good for the waistline?

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  2. Funnily enough I had a similar conversation with a friend the other day who is approaching the big six-oh. I do so agree with Fr Ignatius. Age is just a number after all. We can't turn the clock back and would we really want to anyway. There is so much to enjoy today and so much to look forward to.

    Like Anne, I wish I knew the address of your Fish and Chip shop. If he has the secret of how to make fish and chips good for the waistline, he must have a queue stretching several miles! :-)

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  3. Wonderful! You've done it again. When I turned 60 I was glad I had made it this far. Not feeling 60 (however that is supposed to feel) I thought to myself this isn't all bad. I can still keep up with the kids/grand kids and work. Then I look at my mother who is 85, walking 2 miles/day and playing pinochle three nights a week and I find myself hoping I am doing as well at that age. Yes life is good...Live for TODAY!!! Great advice!

    Thank you for your visit! Always welcome! Cathy

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  4. Hello Anne, Miss Ellen and Cathy,

    You're so right ... age is just a number and we should live for today and forget the gray hairs and wrinkles.

    As for Fish & Chips? I'm sure Father Ignatius was joking to cheer the lady up ... otherwise I'd be queueing outside the shop myself. Don't you just love the smell of freshly fried Fish & Chips?

    Now here's a thought - do they have Fish and Chips in the US as we have here in the UK?

    God bless you Anne, Miss Ellen and Cathy.

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  5. We don't have fish and chips, except perhaps at some restaurants. I remember back in the 70's a chain restaurant called "Arthur Treacher's Fish and Chips". So here I am dating myself!

    Anyway, I think that the fish and chip trend varies depending on what part of the US you live in. Here in Milwaukee, we were largely settled by the Germans and the Poles, both of which had large Catholic populations. So, the big thing here is a Friday night Fish Fry which is usually eaten with french fries (chips), coleslaw and rye bread. Perch is a favorite, as well as Cod. Now I'm getting awfully hungry!

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  6. Thanx Anne for the information. Here in the UK traditionally people go to the Fish & Chips shop and take the food away wrapped in paper bags to eat at home. Very few of these "Chippies" have seating arrangements as in a restaurant. It's just a counter from which you are served and you can see the big frying ovens just behind the counter.

    Usually people have cod or plaice although other fish are usually served. In Scotland you can have chips and Scottish pie with "broon sauce". Brown sauce and a pork pie traditionally made in Scotland.

    Now most "Chippies" have diversified and they can serve you fried chicken, sausages, various pies and "Cornish Pasties" and even battered and deep fried Mars Bars would you believe! Now there's cholesterol gourmet style.

    God bless.

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  7. I so love this post Victor, I have never minded my age (I don't have time to think about it) but my sister did. I think each year is wonderful and a reason for us all to be thankful.
    We have some fish and chip shops here but they are not as good as England, Scotland or Ireland. If I were rich I would have my own plane just to fly in and have a wonderful supper of fish and chips.......:-) Hugs

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  8. Hello Bernie,

    It's so nice to see you visiting here again. We missed you.

    And now you're making me feel so fortunate ... in my little town I can count at least 10 Fish & Chips shops. Oh ... if only I could post you a fish and chips supper ... but how can we keep it so hot until it reaches you?

    God bless you Bernie.

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  9. OK you are all making me hungry talking about fish and chips! Wonderful advice once again from Fr Ignatius- no better place to live than in the present.
    And Anne- I remember Arthur Treachers too :)
    Thanks and God bless Victor!

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  10. Hello Karinann,

    Yes ... we have wandered a bit talking about fish and chips. But I didn't start it ... Father Ignatius did!

    He is right in that there's no better place to live than in the present ... just opposite a fish and chips shop!

    God bless.

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  11. Oh gosh, we have great fish and chip shops here also..my hubby, coming from the USA couldn't believe the size of the fish. And I love chichen salt on the chips...so YUM!!!!!
    I am 65yrs young and since my accident have trouble walking. I used to walk along the ocean every day, about 4 klm.. I also loved to run, now I hope for a total knee replacement to get me up and going again.
    I want to line dance then, can't wait.
    Your as old as you want to be.
    Don't over drink(alcohol) or eat....and no smoking!! Use olive oil instead of butter, drink plenty of water and breath properly...then be happy what you are..
    Ohhhh...and laugh at everything!!
    God bless you friend Victor.. Hope the book is selling well.

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  12. I think you captured a woman's sentiments on aging perfectly. I felt that way when I turned 40. I rather hoped I'd grow out of this silliness when I get to 60, but maybe that's wishful thinking.

    We don't have good fish and chips that I know of here in Texas, though perhaps on the coast (Gulf of Mexico) we might. Around here it's only available as fast food, really greasy and not good at all. But when we visit my husband's family in Vancouver, Canada, we have the most wonderful fish and chips. We like to put vinegar on them.

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  13. I agree with Sarah in that you've captured a woman's sentiments on aging perfectly.

    I especially appreciated Father Ignatius' comment:

    “Don’t fret about your age … or what the future might bring … celebrate your achievements today, and move forward hand in hand with God.”

    Definitely great advice!

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  14. Hi Crystal Mary,

    Thanx for your good wishes and great advice. I hope you're better soon and able to line dance and feel agile once again.

    I agree about your laughing advice ... I always laugh when I look in the mirror.

    God bless you always.

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  15. Greetings Sarah and Tracy,

    It's so nice of you to write in.

    You know ... it's not just women who get concerned about their age. Men do it too; although many would not admit it.

    And they do silly things too ... like wearing clothes that look great on a youngster but stupid on ... well, you know what I mean! Or being rich enough to buy a sporty super car yet drive it at 30 miles an hour on the highway! Come on men - grow up ... and I don't mean age wise but mentally. Act your age !!!

    Anyway ... back to fish and chips ... now there's a great leveler and a symbol of friendship amongst nations. (Thinks) "I think I'm hungry and beginning to talk nonsense. Better stop now".

    God bless you Sarah and Tracy.

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  16. Great post. Talk of fish and chips is making me hungry too! :)
    God bless.

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  17. So nice to see you here Colleen. Thanx for calling in.

    God bless you.

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