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Since the installation of a new First Presidency for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people have been getting out their calculators and adding machines and coming up with all sorts of observations about the age of our leaders.
In our early years, we often try to hide our age. In later years, if we live long enough, we take a certain pride in them. The three brethren at the top of the church have taken pride in their years for many years.
So, as a kind of tribute to the idea of elderly wisdom, I dug out my “Oxford Book of Ages” to see what others had to say about scaling the Everest of advancing years.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“The crowning grace of old age is influence.”
— Cicero, at age 99.
“Infirmity is a state of mind. I sleep well because I don’t let my mind get stale.”
— Adolph Zukor, chairman of Paramount Pictures, at age 98.
“If you think about it, you will find there is no meaning in life if you are estranged from God.”
— Catherine Bramwell-Booth, head of the Salvation Army, at age 95
“All my senses are as good as ever, and in the highest perfection; my understanding clearer and brighter than ever; my judgment sound; my memory tenacious; my spirits good; and my voice, the first thing which is apt to fail us, grown so strong and sonorous that I cannot help chanting out loud my prayers morning and night, instead of whispering and muttering them to myself, as was formerly my custom.”
— Luigi Cornaro, author, at age 94.
“At every stage of my life, friendship has been the main source of my quite outrageously enjoyable existence. My sorrows, even though occasionally acute, have been few, and the enjoyment still goes on. A great many of my friends, both within and outside my family circle, are sixty or seventy years younger than myself.”
— Sir Geoffrey Keynes, at age 93.
“A man over ninety is a great comfort to all his elderly neighbors; he is a picket-guard at the extreme outpost; and the young folks of sixty or seventy feel that the enemy must get by him before he can come near their camp.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, at age 91.
“I now find I grow old. My sight is decayed … my strength is decayed. … But what I should be afraid of is, if I took thought for the morrow, that my body should weigh down my mind and create either stubbornness by the decrease of my understanding, or peevishness, by the increase of bodily infirmities.”
— John Wesley, founder of Methodism, at age 86.
“To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.”
— Bernard Baruch, at age 85.
And one more:
“At my age I stand, as it were, on a high peak alone. I have no contemporaries with whom I can exchange memories or views. But that very isolation gives me a less biased view of that vast panorama of human life which is spread before the eyes of a centenarian, still more when those eyes are the eyes of an archaeologist. It is true that much of the far distance is shrouded in cloud and mist, but every here and there the fog thins a little and one can see clearly the advance of mankind.”
— Dr. Margaret Murray at age 100, from her book, “My First Hundred Years.”
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