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.
For the last 12 years, I worked as a freelance contractor for a project that I was passionate about. Due to some recent changes, though, this project shut down. I feel the emptiness, like a hole in my stomach, and I’ve been trying to figure out what’s next.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know yet.
But I do know a few things …
One of my favorite books when I was growing up was Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. The novel follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. There were analogies with my family since I also had sisters, and the youngest one, born premature, reminded me a lot of frail and sweet Beth. It took no time for me to identify with Jo and her strong, emotional personality, her boyish ways, her love for literature, her initial rejection of the idea of marriage, and so on. She was my secret role model.