The grace of old age, By Simbo Olorunfemi

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Too many reports, of late, of people, especially of ‘middle age’ passing on. Sudden deaths, often reported. I suspect it has become more pronounced on account of the overwhelming influence of instantenous tools and means of communication which tend to bring that which might have been far away so close. I suspect we might even be dealing with some sort of information overload.

But then, as always, there is more than one face to life. I have also observed, thankfully too, that many more of our Senior Citizens are living well into good old age, some quite active and productive too.

A few of my friends here have parents in their 80s and even 90s. Within the week, a friend’s Mum celebrated her 82nd. Yesterday, another friend’s Dad was 90. Some of our highly accomplished personalities, well into their late 80s are not only active, they are quite sharp – physically and mentally. President Obasanjo (84). Dr Christopher Kolade (89). Prof Wọlé Soyinka (87).

I had the privilege of an hour or more with Dr Kolade a few years back, his ‘dash’ down the stairs and around the house was eloquent. Wole Soyinka still maintains quite an active schedule, which includes international travel.

In the picture attached, from the left, Rev. Felix Omobude (75), Bishop Francis Wale Oke (65), Pastor Enoch Adeboye (79) and Archbishop Margaret Idahosa (78). Average age – 74.

As I watched these men, at close quarters on Saturday, I found myself thinking about the grace of old age, wondering if there is something peculiar about their generation that might give a cue, not just on growing old gracefully, but being so physically and mentally alert at that age.

There was another elder Statesman at the event who is not in this photograph. Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor. Fit and sharp as well. We had been on the same flight on Friday. In the shuttle bus that conveyed us to the terminal, two people offered him their seats. He politely declined. ‘I like to stand’, he said. Stand, he did.

In the last few years, I have had some modest level of access to these men. I have seen them at meetings, watch them at close quarters, and one of the things I suspect might speak for their physical and mental strength is the quality of their minds. Quite simple and unassuming. Then, they lead very active lives. It is almost unbelievable the kind of busy schedule they have. For two of the men here, the number of trips they embarked upon in the last 3 days, shuttling between airports and meetings, yet spending hours standing, speaking at multiple occasions, back to back, is beyond belief.

Perhaps, the disciplined regime they maintain too might be a factor. Fasting, I would think, helps. Modest and disciplined eating. Physical exertion. Productivity. Constant engagement. Access to good care too. Above all, the grace of God.

One thing I have observed is the humility and mutual respect that is always present, between and among them. Each one always willing and ready to be there for the other. This was at the 1st Archbishop Benson Idahosa Memorial Lecture in Benin on Saturday. The current National President along with three former Presidents of the PFN (Pastor Oritsejafor included), there to honour another former President who passed on in 1998.

There is something about the Grace of old age. Above all, it can only be the grace of God.

-Olorunfemi is a Strategic Communication and Media professional

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