My 99-Year-Old Friend: An Example of Gratitude

My 99-Year-Old Friend: A Living Example of Gratitude - Grace Fox

How I’d love to grow old maintaining his attitude about gratitude. And I can. By remembering his words: “You know–thankfulness is really a choice, isn’t it?

1Shout with joy to the LORD, O earth! 2
Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.
3Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name.
5For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation
Psalm 100

Visiting an old friend

Last Monday I enjoyed the opportunity to visit an old friend. It’s okay to call him that—after all, he’s 99 years old! I’ve known Alf Bayne—founder of Camp Homewood on Quadra Island, BC—for thirty-five years. And all the while, I’ve known him to be a person who demonstrates gratitude.

Several years ago I visited him in the hospital after he broke his pelvis. His lunch arrived while I was there. One of his roommates stared at his own plate and grimaced. Another one voiced his complaint. But not Alf.

Alf waited until the gal who’d delivered the lunch trays stepped outside the room. That’s when he said in a voice meant to be heard by anyone within earshot, “Fruit cocktail? Yum! I love fruit cocktail. And roast beef and mashed potatoes? How lucky can a man be?”

I laughed, and Alf grinned. “I just want the staff to know I’m thankful for everything they’re doing for me while I’m here,” he said. His eyes twinkled.

The twinkle wasn’t there on Monday

Alf, now living in a senior’s residence, was sitting on the couch in his one room apartment. “I can’t walk very well anymore,” he said. “The staff help me get dressed in the morning, and then they set me here. This is where I stay. Anything I do must be within arm’s reach.” He pointed at his television set, his Bible, and a couple of Christian books nearby.

Alf asked about our family and ministry. And then he said, ““I’m old, and I can’t do much anymore, but I’m grateful for God’s goodness to me over the years. I’m especially thankful for Kathleen—she checks on me every evening.” (Kathleen adopted Alf and his wife many years ago. She’s the daughter they never had).

Thankfulness is a choice

He paused, and then he said, “You know—thankfulness is really a choice, isn’t it? We can choose to complain and wish things were different, or we can be grateful. I choose to be grateful.”

When the time came to say goodbye, I hugged Alf and kissed him on the top of his head—small gestures but heartfelt towards this gentle man who’s impacted my life. How I’d love to grow old maintaining the same attitude as his.

The secret?

Remembering and applying his words of wisdom:

“You know—thankfulness is really a choice, isn’t it? We can choose to complain and wish things were different, or we can be grateful. I choose to be grateful.”

Know you are loved,


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  1. I choose to be grateful, too. That is quite the story. If I were to be entirely truthful, in myself, I would say that really “nothing” in my life is the way that “I” would have it. However, when I see what God is doing, and how He’s changing me, and those around me, I have to be honest and say, “I wouldn’t have it any other way”, for “His Way” is always best. I am very thankful today that God is working in my life, and of those around me.
    Praise our wonderful LORD.

    1. Great words, Marge. Thank you for sharing. You’re right–life is rarely what we wish it would be. But knowing that God is in control (and He’s a lot smarter than we are) gives us every reason to be thankful, yes?

  2. I asked my husband the other day; when we think of Jesus now, how do we picture Him; do we think of the one who walked the earth and went around doing good; the will of the Father, in sandals and the clothing of his day? or do we think of him as the Victorious King, sitting at God’s right Hand, at the Throne of Grace, every-interceding for us and all mankind; the full Godhead; steadfast, ever-loving, eternal, patient, all-forgiving God, who wants the best for all his children; and waits for ALL to come to Him.
    My husband replied, “That One”; the One who ever-intercedes for everyone…….at the Throne of Grace. He said, “We can live in constant adoration to him, praising him, thanking him, and worshipping him every day, while resting in the knowledge that He indeed is LORD of All, and we simply need to live each day in gratefulness and adoration towards Him; the King of our Lives. I agree.

  3. So grateful for everything in my life. Last month I was able to fly out to Colorado to check on my son who had been sick all summer. Got lots of hugs! Got to see my great grandchildren for the first time. It was a glorious time.
    Now today I am starting a new plan to get my body in better shape. I’m starting to eat right and exercise. Have a good friend to coach me and talked with her today.
    God is so good. I’m also getting ready to begin a new online Bible study with a great group of women to lead on Facebook.

    1. Oh Nancy, I’m thrilled for you! How wonderful to spend time with your family and meet your precious great-grandchildren. And how good that you’re working on your physical health now. May God bless your efforts with great success!

  4. That is so wonderful that you are going to do a message on how we see God.
    I also was so joyous to hear of Nancy meeting her great-grandchildren.

    I joined a women’s Bible Study on the Gifts of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23)
    Well now, there’s an eye-opener. It’s good that God is patient and loving towards us, and gentle and kind and faithful, etc., while we remain open to the Holy Spirit getting us there, because we sure can’t do those things on our own. We can work along with Him though, but don’t try too hard, but allow Him to do the work within us. As long as we stay yielded to Him, he will accomplish these things in us.

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