Families come in many shapes and sizes, and the joys—and challenges—they bring change through the years. This issue explores how the different stages of family life fit into the wider cycle of life.
I recently saw this quote and loved its description of a family: “Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”
But families aren’t static. In fact, in our lives, one of the main things that changes as we go through the seasons of life is our relationships with family. As my three-year-old son recently said, “First, you are a boy, then you turn into a dad, then you turn into a grandpa.” Oh, for the simplicity of a child.
I remember when growing up as a boy in the USA, Thanksgiving was a holiday I looked forward to nearly as much as Christmas. I loved the fall season with its dramatic colors: the browns and yellows, oranges and reds, as the hardwood trees of the Ohio Valley burst forth with praises of thanks to God for the warm and sunny summer He had just given them. One last attestation to the glory of God before finally shedding their leaves and letting them float down to fertilize the ground.
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.
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.
Recently, I decided to attend some free knitting and crocheting classes offered at a local community center. The idea of learning new things is more appealing to me at 63 than it has been for quite some time. Besides, I was hopeful that it would be beneficial in combating stress, something my doctor recently warned was affecting my health.
Arguments with my parents marred my college years. We argued about how much time I spent on expanding my social life, my newfound love for television talk shows, my desire to buy a motorcycle, and a myriad of other things that are trivial in retrospect but were highly emotional issues for me. At the time, I saw my parents as old-fashioned guardians who were blocking my way to the full enjoyment of the prime of my life.
A few years ago, our neighbors gave their female dog to a friend of theirs. Some time later, this old man died and the dog journeyed to our street, but our neighbors no longer lived there. As time went by, the dog got scrawnier and more forlorn. Soon she dug a hole under our fence and started to eat what our two dogs left in their dishes or on the ground nearby.
In the doctor’s office where I work, we have a regular patient by the first name of Blender. That is her legal, given name. I haven’t had an opportunity to ask about the back story, but I am so curious as to what made parents name their child after a kitchen appliance. Maybe it means something beautiful in another language. I have no idea!
My grandfather, whom I called “Opa,” and I were best buddies. He sharpened my instincts and shared his love for nature during our weekly hikes in the woods.
Each weekend, I eagerly awaited the moment when I was dropped off at Opa and Oma’s one-bedroom apartment in a small town at the heart of Germany’s industrial center.
Many adults have looked at a child blissfully enjoying playtime, and have, for a moment, wished they were children again. They look so peaceful, so happy, with hardly a care in the world. Children laugh easily, they enjoy what they do, and they get excited about the simplest things. They generally have minor, temporary worries that rarely last more than a few minutes or an hour. They likely spend so much more time than you do just being happy and engaged.