Today is I-san’s 99th birthday!
It was great to hear his voice over the phone, sounding as bright as always. His wife sounded as cheerful as always too. Half-way through our phone call, the doorbell rang, and I could hear his wife shouting “hai” to the visitor at the door in such an energetic voice that one forgets that she’s 86 years old. Someone had sent a present for I-san’s birthday. And just last weekend, their family of children and grandchildren had flown in and gathered together to celebrate I-san’s birthday.
I’m really thankful to have met this couple several years ago. They’re like my grandparents although she prefers that I call them my parents. They were the first ‘parents’ whom I went to church with every Sunday. They were the first ‘parents’ whom I sat down with and said grace together, before a meal. I remember being so touched that I had tears in my eyes throughout that first meal. They were the first ‘parents’ I spent Christmas eve and Christmas with. We went to church for Christmas eve service and we carolled on the street amidst the falling snow. We returned to their home to enjoy a drink before calling it a night. They invited me to sleep over at their home and the next morning, we strolled to church for Christmas service and lunch. In the times we had spent together, I learnt much about how to live healthily, joyfully and purposefully, to a ripe old age.
To live healthily… be disciplined
I-san and his wife live on their own and they take care of all their personal daily needs. They exercise on weekdays for an hour each day by walking in the swimming pool. Aqua walking has strengthened them and at their age, they still walk upright and their strides are strong.
Besides exercising regularly and consistently, they take much care in what they eat. For breakfast, they have a slice of home-made bread and home-made Caspian yogurt filled with fresh fruits and lots of nutritious natural ‘supplements’. For lunch, they have a small bowl of rice, natto, a sunny side up, home-made kimchi and some vegetables. I have fondly named this meal, I-さん定食 I-san’s teishoku (I-san’s set lunch). For dinner, they allow themselves choices of their favourite dishes cooked with fresh meat, and seasonal fish and vegetables. Sometimes, I-san will indulge in a can of beer after his dinner. They told me that they had made deliberate lifestyle and dietary changes so that they can keep their body healthy.
To live joyfully… have a thankful heart
Everyday they read the bible before breakfast. They spend time praying individually and together as a couple. They worship God by singing hymns together, before bedtime, every night. They go to church every Sunday. The joy of the Lord is always in their hearts. They go about their days doing the same daily household chores but they always upkeep their house with pride. I-san told me that whatever they own, their bodies, their souls, their hearts, their minds, their house, their everything, were given to them by the good Lord, so they will take good care of everything joyfully.
To live purposefully… know that Jesus is Lord
I-san gave his life to the Lord at a young age and the Lord has been faithful to him throughout his life. The Lord was with him in good times and especially in bad times. Each time he shared accounts of his triumphs in trials, he credited it to knowing Jesus as his Lord and saviour. His wife came to know the Lord through him and her life has been blessed abundantly. I have not met another woman with more zest for life than her. She learnt driving in her 60s and only stopped driving a few years ago, just to stop her worrying children from nagging at her.
Looking at them, a couple who has walked, faithfully with the Lord, on this earth, many decades longer than me, I am filled with hope for the future.
When I see the Lord, I too, want to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)