I was already pondering the question of whether someone who lives to ninety actually lives twice as much as someone who only lives 45 years. Do they, perhaps just take twice as long to do the same amount of living?
Then someone told me about Amy. Aged about six, she developed a syndrome that meant she reverted to babyhood. A team of 60 volunteers was set up to work with a physiotherapist in moving her limbs in the hope that the stimulation would somehow remind her brain how to crawl, and, possibly, even learn to walk again.
She wasn’t expected to live beyond teenage years so there was a certain urgency to trying to get a quality of life for her.
One of these volunteers, the one who told me about her, is a priest and after his sessions the parents would ask him to pray for Amy. No-one was expecting a miraculous cure so he would pray for God’s blessing on the work of the team. He didn’t say as much, but I got the impression he felt he was expressing platitudes.
One day as he said prayers, he felt someone asking, ‘Who is teaching whom?’ He opened his eyes and found himself meeting Amy’s deep, wise gaze. The penny dropped. Amy might not be learning to crawl or walk but she was teaching sixty people about disability.
How many people achieve that in sixty years?