Juneteenth (our official day of delayed freedom) should become a national time for Blacks to free themselves of the mental stigma of being ashamed or self-conscious of any physical feature or age and totally enjoy life. During the Juneteenth weekend, I had the occasion to attend an event called “Black History Made Alive Park Extravaganza” in Fairmount Park given by the “Golden Seniors Outreach Ministry.” In addition to enjoying the festivities of fellowship, mature conversations, live entertainment, games, and the best variety downhome cooking ever, I became convinced that “The Golden Seniors” had taken the challenge of staying young and were ahead of the game.
Although the group of celebrants and organizers, mostly from Friendship Christian Fellowship in Riverside, at the history extravaganza ranged in age from early 50s through late 90s the atmosphere led me to the following observations of staying young.
(1) Learn to enjoy your life regardless of weight or age. Too many people are worrying themselves silly over their weight and age. I didn’t see anyone there that refused a plate or slice of something delicious because they were worried about their waistline. Nobody was heard declining to participate in any games, either from a chair or on their feet, because of their age.
(2) Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down and kill a party. It must benefit your longevity to stay away from grouchy people. No members of the “Golden Seniors” or their guests were exhibiting a chip on their shoulder or a bad attitude.
(3) Keep learning. Dozens of the seniors in the park were involved in mind challenging activities such as: crafts, puzzles, and quizzes. The seniors seemed to surround themselves with the things they loved, whether it was family, pets, music, or singing.
(4) Laugh often. There was so much laughter in the park that strangers, of all ages, from other parties were seen joining the Golden Seniors. I noticed a half dozen or so toothless seniors laughing heartily with their mouths wide open without the self-consciousness. People told jokes and stories in the trust tradition of Black folk before we were overwhelmed with computerized toys and gadgets of this technological era.
(5) Enjoy the companionship of a possible sweetheart. These seniors were not at home or church waiting for God to send them a mate.
They were actively socializing and introducing themselves as they made new acquaintances. I witnessed several seniors flirting, and exchanging telephones. Seniors that are alone must learn not to sit home alone and let life pass them by. Staying young includes staying involved in life.
(6) Have a relationship with God and pray for one another. The ceremony was opened with a prayer. Towards the end of the evening the Golden Seniors joined hands in prayer and prayed for a man in the park.
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