In the last few months, I have found myself surrounded by the most beautiful and brilliant shades of silver. Resting atop weather-worn faces and ruffled with arthritic hands. Telling the world in varying tones, “I am testament to a whole lot of life lived.”
Each strand. Each cowlick. Each comb over.
Made lovely by the warrior beneath it.
Each measured step. Each determined gaze. Each caught breath.
Made noteworthy in the owner’s persistence.
All leaving me to wonder who they were twenty years ago.
Before disease and age took over.
Before the world grabbed their keys and called them limited.
Before days were measured in doctors and appointments.
Who were they then?
Political figures? Builders? Healers?
Scrubs? Uniforms? Coveralls?
School spirit sweatshirt wearers?
What came everyday, without fail, until it didn’t?
Until they realized the gray had become silver and life had been redefined somehow?
But beyond the things of their wondered past, I have been touched so powerfully by their present.
The suit worn to the eye doctor because beforehand, he had a date with his best girl at the little dive next door.
The grip of her hand around the arm of the guy she still thinks is swell.
The courage it takes to admit he forgot.
The humility that comes with her taking instruction from someone who could be her grandson.
The wheelchairs. The canes. The orthopedic shoes.
(Cumbersome and clunky but carried with such grace.)
The silver-haired treasures we often forget in our fast-paced, always-changing world.
The gateways to our past that we hurry along and sigh-at in line at the grocery store.
The wisdom we trade for openly berating their driving or labeling them crotchety and cranky.
And yet, someday, we will all walk in their orthopedic shoes.
Through a season of quiet humility that comes with a lifetime of love, experience and all-out survival.
We will all get there.
Some may even arrive a bit too soon, walking a path like mine.
Where you understand the forgetting and the fumbling and the holding onto the guy you think is swell.
Where you see the quiet warriors of a generation persist against the battle of time in a war room filled with tumbling mats and balance bars.
Where you hold in your heart the strength and courage and tenacity they bring as an impetus to fight your own giants.
Picking yourself up. Smoothing your own gray. And ruffling through it with your arthritic hands.
Seeping into the beauty and the brilliance of the silver that surrounds you.
And finding courage you failed to see before it came.