“You can’t be in a hurry, your pace is like a snail.
The highlight of your morning is when you check your mail. 
But at least you’re on the green side of the grass.”

Hello out there, ladies and gentlemen of the brewery! If your knees are beginning to creak, and you are beginning to feel your age, and this lock down has taken the joy out of life, perhaps you might want to listen to this song, “Green Side of the Grass,” by Libby Allen. It seeks to bring a light side to growing old and aging. It is a consolation to myself at least, since I recently turned 76 — though publicly I only admit to 56.

Of course I am the baby of the seniors here in Kalaupapa. The patients are in their 80s and still going strong. For example, Meli is in her mid-80s. Yet she delivers and picks up the mail at the airport every morning, then works in the grocery store afterwards. She also finds the energy to be sacristan for St. Francis Church. In between, she gives me pastoral advice. The “patriarch” is, of course, John. Last month he celebrated 96 years but one might look at him and consider him to be 76 at the most. He is, without exaggeration, a favorite with the ladies and loves to take visitors around the peninsula in his trusty truck.

“You wake up with the chickens, you’re in bed by eight.

“You want your senior discount, you worry about your weight.”

At age 81 my father died unexpectedly upon suffering a heart attack. He had been blessed with good health mostly all of his life and had done his usual chores around the farm house the previous day. He had told me on my visit the previous summer that he did not fear death and so he lived that way until the final curtain. He would have loved and sung that song.

“You’re not six feet under, the day is not your last.

At least you’re on the green side of the grass.”

Anchor columnist Father Patrick Killilea, SS.CC., is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.