There are those who may think that living belongs to the young. I don't believe I have ever felt that way, and now that I am no longer young, I know I don't believe it! How old is old? Well, age is relative. And it changes from day to day. I may not feel any older than I did at twenty, even though I don't exactly look like I'm twenty. It's relative after all.

Now, most of us don't presume to try to be younger than we are; although you may not want to ask someone how old they are if they are a bit sensitive. It might not be appreciated, you know. And it really doesn't matter how well it's covered up by dyes, makeup or surgery, you are as old as you are. Nothing is going to change that.

But when is old too old? I'm here to tell you that you are never too old. It's not the years that decides it is the heart. Are you too old to plant a tree, write a poem, a song, paint a picture, or learn something new you have never done or known before. Are you ever too old to forgive someone? Or to make someone's life a bit better? Are you too old to understand someone's pain or grief? Actually those who are older understand better due to life-lived circumstances. It is never too late, you are never too old.

That tree you may plant will grow; you may never enjoy its shade, you may never see it in its maturity, but someone will. Someone planted many of the mature trees around my home and I thank God and them for their beauty every day. How glad I am that they took the time to plant those trees. So, in turn, I will keep planting trees, knowing that I may never see them stretch their branches high in the sky, unfurl their tiny, green leaves in spring, reach that deep green of summer or the splendor of fall's colors. I'll plant it anyway and in my mind's eye, I see it reach for the sky and grow until it reaches its full potential and hope that someone will enjoy it.

Think of Grandma Moses. She was in her seventies when she turned to painting her oil colors after arthritis made her change her mode of creation. Prior to that she had been doing wool embroidery pictures. So, when a window closed a door opened. She did not deign to paint objects of great fame, but rather drew from her own life and times, depicting the farm life and landscapes around the area where she lived. She painted for her own enjoyment, not realizing that they would become so popular or valuable.

Zane Grey, the famed author of many westerns, started out as a dentist but went on to live the life he wrote about after reaching his forties. I'm sure there are many other examples, as well.

I remember a story about my 95-year-old grandfather when an old Jinney from WWI visited the Spencerville area and he expressed a desire to take a ride in the airplane. Some of his sons wanted him to go, but a daughter talked the old man out of going. One of my uncles always thought it was such a shame that they did not let Grandpa Fredrick take that ride. I'd say he was young at heart.

One of the memories I have of my husband's grandmother was of her taking a ride on a motorcycle behind her grandson-in-law's motorcycle, sturdy shoes, cotton hose and housedress instead of leather and boots. Young at heart!

Many times you hear someone say, "I can't do that!" Really, the only thing missing is the drive or ambition to create, to make or do. We may try something and only do it at a mediocre level, but the learning process is valuable, the creativity utilized, your horizons broadened. There is nothing wrong in doing something for the enjoyment one receives, whether it's perfect or not.

Many folks find that after retirement they have a bit more time and can use that time to learn a new skill or begin a new hobby. It really doesn't matter where the ideas lead you as long as you enjoy the journey. Remember the song that tells us fairy tales can come true, it can happen if you are young at heart. Perhaps that's all you need. Age is relative.

Many turn to crossword puzzles or Sudoku, to keep their minds alert. Many like to read, all good, fun activities. Some continue their education, taking college-level classes to finish or further their degrees. How often do we hear of a senior citizen finishing high school or graduating from college? There are some that may shake their heads and wonder thinking it a waste of time and money. But, more power to them! They are among the young at heart!

My mother took piano lessons when she was in her late fifties. She had been self taught as a child on a parlor organ, but wanted to become more proficient. How she enjoyed this activity and became very proficient, playing piano with recorded orchestra music.

There are those who are young at heart through attitudes and personalities. They don't take the life they have been given for granted, but appreciate each day God has given.

So go ahead, plant that tree, go back to college, write that first poem, sing that first song, learn to play the piano or guitar or take gourmet cooking lessons. Begin something new and creative. Many things cost little but will give great satisfaction. Then you can be one of the "young at heart."


Jeannine Roediger has lived on a family farm all her life, first as a farmer's daughter and now as a farmer's wife. She writes weekly for the Times Bulletin and enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking, bird watching and writing.