Celebrating the seniors among us

My 81-year-old mother has a favorite expression as she contemplates growing older. “Age is just a number … and mine is unlisted.” While that may be a fun way to dodge admitting how old you are, I think there is merit in just eliminating the second half of the statement. Age is just a number. A person’s length of life doesn’t invite you to make broad-brushed assumptions.

Ken Lottis, my South end Starbucks coffee mate, is 72 years old and has just signed a contract with a publisher for his first book. Nina Doorneweerd, living independently at Covenant Shores, is in her late 80s and is still writing poetry. Retired construction executive Bill Dorsey is approaching his four-score anniversary running the human race. But he continues to lead two home-based Bible studies on the Island each week.

I continue to be inspired by a fellow Rotarian who answers to the name Ruth Brook. Ruth will celebrate her 91st birthday in a few weeks and continues to spend hours each day designing and creating custom greeting cards. Did I mention my aunt, Joyce Birkeland? This North Mercer resident is still teeing up her golf ball at Glendale Country Club even though she will soon celebrate her 86th birthday.

It would be one thing if the aforementioned folks were an exception. They are not. Mercer Island has a growing senior population and the vast majority of them are continuing to distinguish themselves as significant contributors to our community. Many have fascinating vocational pursuits and hobbies, not to mention stories that should be discovered and written up. Fortunately, there is precedence for that sort of thing.

The Bible is replete with accounts of senior adults to whom the Almighty entrusted major assignments. Noah was conscripted to build the world’s most famous boat long after his rowing years had past. Sarah gave birth to a miracle baby when she was 90. Jacob made a major move from Canaan to Goshen at an age when uprooting lox, stock and bagels was no easy task. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt when he was 80. Daniel survived his sleepover in the lions’ den when he was about the same age.

In Psalm 90, Moses himself indicates the average age for the typical homosapien is between 70 and 80. But there are numerous exceptions to that in Scripture and even more in our world, thanks to the advances of medical science. I recently heard that one insurance company consulting with Covenant Shores is looking (within the next couple of decades) to increase the projected life expectancy of future residents to 110 years.

Unlisted or not, longevity appears in no hurry to pass away. In light of this reality, we would do well to celebrate what it represents and not pass it by.

To that end, have you taken in the “Connecting The Generations” display at the Mercer Island library? The display continues through the rest of this month. It is the Mercer Island Senior Commission’s most recent means of honoring older Americans.

My neighbor, Dave Jobe, who is on the Commission, points out that Islanders who are 55 and older can also pick up their copy of the Commission’s time-sensitive needs and interest survey while viewing the display at the library. Dave assures me that Islanders’ feedback will be incorporated into Commission recommendations for new programs and services for older adults. According to Dave, these recommendations will be presented to the City Council in the fall. Surveys will also be available at the Community Center, JCC, Chamber of Commerce and Island Books.

The Senior Commission, which was appointed by the Mercer Island City Council, is hosting an open house for Island residents ages 55 and older at the Community Center at Mercer View on Friday, May 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Refreshments provided by Albertsons and QFC will be served. It is my understanding that the entire Commission will be present to discuss and gather ideas for new programs and services for older adult residents. For more information, call 232-0738.

Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos is the head of the Mercer Island Covenant Church and a regular contributor to the Reporter.

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