Growing young

by Phil Callaway

100 years in Stoufville

I am inspired by older people with active funny bones. At a banquet I sat beside Roger, a 93-year-old, and his much younger wife Helen. I think she was 91. I’ll tell you, he robbed the cradle. I asked Roger what it was like to get old. He said, “I don’t know. If it ever happens to me I’ll let you know.” A band got up to play and it was loud. After they were done, I asked what he thought of the music. “That was music?” Roger said. Then he laughed and told me that music is an ongoing debate in his church. “Someone at church asked if I like the music.” He said. “How did you answer?” Roger smiled. “I told him I like the people who like that music.”

When I grow up I wanna be like Roger. I know he’d say, “It starts now, Callaway. If you’re unkind, unfriendly, ungrateful, and unforgiving now, you won’t wake up at 93 to find your great-grandchildren crowding the room. Unless you have loads of cash.”

I asked Roger about his greatest achievement. He said, “Finding Jesus. Actually he found me.” 

I love advice from older people who have lived long enough to see what is true and what isn’t; what works and what doesn’t.

         Here’s some of my favorite advice from older guys and gals.

“Nobody ever dies wishing they had worked more,” said one.

“Collect experiences, not stuff,” said another.

“Be deliberate about time with my children. They’ll be gone before you can blink.”

“True friends are rare. They’ll come running when you really need them.”

My Mom sometimes used expressions like, “A stitch in time saves nine.” I asked her what it meant. She said, “Those weeds in the garden? Pull them up now, or a few months down the road there will be ten times as many. Take care of small things before they take root. They’ll be a real pain to get out then.”

From older people I’ve learned to stay out of debt. To live within my means. “If we wanted something we saved and paid cash,” one said. “You young ‘uns buy on credit and pay interest. Start doing that and you can’t reverse the pattern.”

From older people I’ve learned to think of hard times like we do the weather. Storms come. We’re snowed under. But this too will pass. The sun will come out. The best is still coming.

From older people I’ve learned to read books. Books that make me smarter and books that made me mad. Books that challenge me and change me. One said, “You have just one life but you can live a hundred more vicariously through books.” From Mom I learned to read the greatest book of all, every day. The Bible, of course. She said to read it, but better yet I watched her do so, watched it guide and inform and comfort her. I watched her life more than I listened to her words. That’s what kids do.

She listened to the wise Psalmist: “Tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord…So each generation should set its hope anew on God.” Old people who live this way are some of the youngest people you’ll ever meet.

Remember Roger, aged 93? When we said goodbye, he asked me what I thought of his shirt. “I like it,” I said. “Thanks,” said Roger. “My grandson bought it for me. I was worried. It looked like something old people would wear.”

100 years in Stoufville

Pauline Ratcliff

Pauline Ratcliff has been a life-long resident of Stouville, Ontario, and recently celebrated her 100th Birthday surrounded by family and friends.

Pauline was married to Don Ratcliff at age 18. Her and Don (along with Howard and Gladys Ratcliff started Stoufville Youth for Christ in the early 1950s. The weekly YFC rallies and sporting events they organized impacted the lives of hundred of young people in Stoufville and surrounding communities for almost two decades.

Phil Callaway
Author: Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway is a speaker, author, and host of Laugh Again Radio. Visit him at