To give the white-haired father or mother not only respect, but confidence, to tell the joke and the secret to them first, to accord them cordially the central place in the merrymaking, may seem trivial matters, yet they are not trivial to those who, in the twilight of life, begin to think they are useless or forgotten, and to question whether they shall be missed when they shall go out into the nearing night. Courtesy is but a little thing and costs nothing, and if it is due to any one, it is surely due to the aged among us, especially when these are our parents.
A wise man will never rust out. As long as he can move or breathe he will be doing for himself, his neighbor, or for posterity. Almost to the last hour of his life Washington was at work; so was Newton. The vigor of their lives never decayed. No rust marred their spirits. It is a foolish idea to suppose that we must lie down and die because we are old. Who is old? Not the man of energy, not the laborer in science, art, or benevolence; but he only who suffers his energies to waste away and the springs of life to become motionless, on whose hands the hours draw heavily, and to whom all things wear the garb of gloom. Is he old? should not be asked, but is he active? Can he breathe freely and move with agility? There are scores of gray headed men whom we should prefer in any important enterprise to those young men who fear and tremble at approaching shadows, and turn pale at a lion in their path, or a harsh word or a frown.
If you learn from your suffering, and really come to understand the lesson you were taught, you might be able to help someone else who's now in the same phase you may have just completed. Maybe that's what it's all about after all.