My husband and I recently found ourselves on our own again. After raising ten children over 40 years, I didn’t see this coming!
We’ve always been a close-knit family, but of course, as the children have grown up, one by one they’ve been moving on. I cried each time, as it felt like a piece of my heart was being torn away.
Since turning 70, I’ve been thinking more about the benefits of aging. Even though many of us who are getting older have already felt some of the disadvantages or difficulties, there are also many good things to be found in this stage of our lives. I want to explore a few of these with you by sharing some of my own thoughts and experiences. Of course, you may not be at the stage in life where these things apply to you personally, but you may be interested for the sake of elderly family members or friends.
You wouldn’t think he was speaking to a gathering of elderly people, some in wheelchairs, some unable to talk, others afflicted by dementia or Alzheimer’s.
His hands gesticulating in the air, his voice passionately describing some deep concept, then the blackboard and the chalk: “Who can tell me what peace means? You, Alberto, yes, tell me and I’ll write it down. Wonderful! Come on, everyone, we’ll send this to the local newspaper!”
Our theatre group regularly performs a dynamic skit based on a monologue from the Shakespeare play As You Like It, where he summarizes the seasons of our lives in seven stages: the crying baby, the reluctant schoolboy, the pining lover, the fierce soldier, the wise judge, the old man, and finally death.
One day about three years ago, my father invited his five children, married and parents themselves, to accompany him and my mother to the Holy Land. He was already 85 and hadn’t been traveling or flying for quite a few years. Up to that point, I think he had been feeling old and a bit worried and fearful and had sort of closed that chapter of his life. But that day something happened, the result of a combination of his desire to visit again the places his beloved Jesus had grown up in and his eagerness to take a trip with his family, something we hadn’t done since we had all been pretty young.
My dad lived until he was 101, my mom until she was 99, and they were married for over 75 years! They survived two world wars and had nine children, though the twins, who were born right after World War II, went back to heaven at birth. They had 19 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
When I was a child I remember bursting into tears when thinking of my parents growing old. I loved them so much, and just the thought that one day they could lose some hair and get a few wrinkles was so hard! Thinking about it now, something in me was dreading the aging process. I felt strongly that everything beautiful should never end or lose its spark.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”1
This is a big life lesson. It is really good news … and not such great news at the same time. Regardless of how you may feel at the moment, what season of life you are currently living through, you can probably expect a change at some point, because, as we know, seasons come and go.