Joseph Duplessis (1725–1802), “Portrait of Benjamin Franklin”, c. 1785 (Public Domain)
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” (Proverbs 16:31)
God has assigned us our birthdays, so there is no such thing as “too old.” Consider how relative age can be.
Justo Gallego Martínez of Mejorada del Campo, Spain, is 92 and calls himself a Fool for Christ. He has done the unimaginable and he’s still at it: building a massive church with very little help and not even a crane. He does it as a gift to God. Last I heard, he is still working 10 hours a day, six days a week.
Tom Monaghan, 81, is best known for turning a restaurant that he paid $900 for in 1960 into Domino’s Pizza, which sold for over $1 billion in 1998. He also owned the Detroit Tigers from 1983 to 1992. After forming Legatus, Monaghan moved away from materialism to dedicating his life to the Church. Today, he works full-time building up Legatus, an organization for the top Catholic business leaders so that they will support the Church and culture. He also works out every day and can still do 100 pushups!
Mother Angelica was 58 when she started broadcasting religious programs from a converted garage which would become the Eternal Word Television Network, (EWTN). She often told us not to worry about imagined limits but just follow God’s call. When Mother Angelica died at 92 in 2016, the network broadcast to 144 countries and more than 264 million homes. She was considered the most influential woman in broadcasting in the world. And she was just getting started in a garage at age 58.
Marilyn Succhy, a friend of mine, became a nurse at age 55 after her 11th child entered junior high school. She worked as a nurse into her seventies. Consider that Marilyn never even had high school chemistry when she took it at the college level in her fifties.
Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson Moses) began painting at 76 after arthritis made embroidery too hard. Three years later, her art hung at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. When she died in 1961 at age 101, President John F. Kennedy praised her for inspiring a nation. She never had any formal art training but painted every day, turning out more than a thousand paintings in 25 years
Harriet Thompson was 92 in 2015 when she and was the oldest marathon runner in U.S. history. The previous record holder Gladys Burrill, was also 92 when she completed her sixth marathon in 2010. Thompson finished the race in 7 hours, 7 minutes, and 42 seconds. She was a cancer survivor and ran her first marathon at age 76 as part of a fundraiser to support a friend with leukemia. She died last October at 94 after a fall while delivering birthday gifts at her senior center.
Dr. Fred Goldman, was a couple of months shy of 101 when he died in October 2012. Right up until the end, he was still practicing medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio , seeing 12 patients a day, although he did cut back from five eight-hour days a week to three at the age of 96.
Dr. Melissa Freeman, age 91, is a Bronx-born medical doctor who still runs a clinic, dedicated to serve people who often get tossed aside.
Benjamin Franklin at 70, helped write the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and was the oldest person to sign it. At age 81, he signed the Constitution of the United States of America.
Noah Webster completed his American dictionary in 1833 at age 66. It took 26 years.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was 64 when she wrote the first of her best-selling book series "Little House in the Big Woods," chronicling her pioneering childhood in the late 1800s. She finished the series with "These Happy Golden Years" in 1943, at age 76.
Peter Roget was 73 when he published the Thesaurus. He began keeping lists of words as a young man.
Nola Ochs, at 95, became the oldest person to graduate from college in May 2007 from Fort Hays State University alongside her granddaughter.
Nellie Edwards, was 52 when she acted on a sudden inspiration to create a portrait of then "Blessed" Kateri Tekakwitha. Ten years later, she is a nationally acclaimed artist specializing in pro-life art. Last year, in her early 60s, she published her first children's book.
I am always in awe at great accomplishments later in life. They are powerful reminders that age is relative in the face of God’s plans. However, the point of this article is not to make anyone feel like an underachiever. After all, some of our most loved saints lived away from the world in cloisters or were hermits but were spiritually accomplished. The point is simply a reminder not set limits. Life is about following God’s inspiration. That is what will make our lives amazing. Nothing more.