Nobody prepared us for this!

We were on the way to church this morning, my husband of 50 years, six months and eleven days and I, and the thought floated to the front of my brain, “Nobody ever prepares you for this time.”

I have neither the time nor the want-to to go to my local library, or Barnes & Noble, or even a Christian book store to count how many books are available on every other stage of life: parenting books, what to do about teens, dating relationships, going through menopause, and even where to go, and how to prepare financially for retirement.

But what about those years, for those of us blessed to still be together, between retirement and the nursing home? Are there books out there for us? Perhaps there are, but people who have lived into their seventies do not easily fit into any prescribed patterns nor do they yield to conventional relationship remedies.

So we “go gently into that dark night,” or “rage, rage at the fading light,” –I am more inclined toward the latter—on our own, finding our own way.

One of my early conclusions is that together is better, but it’s no walk in the park every day, either. I often joke that my husband and I only really fight about one thing. We’re agreed: one of us is losing his or her mind, but we can’t agree on which one.

There’s too much truth there to be funny. There are times when he remembers an incident or a conversation, and his memory of it is entirely different than mine.

Here’s where the patterns of years comes in: Because for nearly 50 years we’ve both known that his intellect is higher than mine, it is naturally assumed that his memory is the correct one. On incidents that can be verified, though, it can be proven it’s not always the case. Further, my intellect is not so far inferior to his that those assumptions can be made.

We both have times when we can’t locate the precise word we’re looking for. There are times when we do fear the loss of memory, the quickness of thought. I know it annoys me considerably when he questions my memory, and I have noted that he becomes most adamant when he’s not as confident of his position as he would have me believe.

Patterns. Is there a book out there to help us change our patterns? I don’t think so, and if such a book existed, I’m reasonably certain it wouldn’t work for us. And that statement alone is proof. We are too “set in our ways.” Isn’t that a common expression used of us old, irrelevant ones?

Sometimes it is a melancholy thought, that: we are irrelevant. We’re too old to die young and tragically. Our children are dutiful, and our grandchildren delight us, but in the natural, we have outlived our usefulness.

Another reason to “delight thyself in the Lord.” I see nothing in scripture about retiring as Christians. On the contrary. Hebrews 6:12 admonishes believers to not become lazy. Psalm 92 promises us who remain faithful and plugged in to what God is doing in our day, will stay “fresh and green,” and still bear fruit in old age.

It’s my decision then, to turn away from melancholy thoughts and to ignore the yearning for conversation and interaction with the busy populace. It’s there; I won’t deny that I wish someone would have called today, just for the pleasure of my conversation, but evidently that’s not what God has for this season of my life.

I do rejoice, and I do delight myself in the Lord. He has set me free from so much and I have more clarity of thought and purpose than I ever dreamed possible.

Now: To have the patience to wait for the Lord and what He will direct me to do. That’s my challenge.

I love the Lord. He has heard my cry over and over again. He has given me meaningful work in prison, a wonderful husband and a marriage rich and deep beyond imagining.

I keep thinking, “The very least I can do” is to pray for my family and loved ones. Actually that’s the MOST any of us can do. If He’s calling me to a life of solitary intercession, I admit to resisting the idea and thinking I’m less suited for that task than anybody on the planet. But I will wait for Him.

I don’t have a book to follow. I’ll just have to wait for Jesus to live His life in me. Poor, poor me! What a calling!

Return to thy rest, o my soul; the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.


7 thoughts on “Nobody prepared us for this!

  1. Elaine, how adeptly you express this time of life. Although we trail you both by a few years, I can so identify with your musings. Both Ron and I fight the “need to be right” -to assure each of ourselves that we are not losing our minds or experiencing the dreaded onset of Alzheimer’s. Sometimes, we bicker over absolutely irrelevant, meaningless drivel. We wonder “Have we become “The Bickersons”? But we come to the realization that we want a relationship more than to be “right”. Our children, all grown and on their own, have their own very busy lives and we often feel like an afterthought. Self pity, woe is me – so under appreciated by the very ones who I fed at my breast. But the Lord does give us the wonderful assurance that we will remain “fresh and green” in Psalm 92.. We so want to be open to what God wants us to do “on the downside”. Ron’s recent brush with death, has made him more determined than ever to be an influence on our grandchildren’s lives and has given him renewed purpose. I have seen him grow like a “tree planted by rivers of living waters”. (Ps. 1) I am grateful for the 42 years we are about to celebrate. God is, indeed, good.


    • Carol, you really should be blogging this stuff yourself. I have often thought, when I read your emails, that you are a writer/philosopher at heart. You certainly have the gift. Blessings!


  2. There is no irrelevant. I have seen it. My so David Daniel, the most treasured gift from our most precious Lord. With Downs Syndrome, Cerebal Palsey, a Trach, a Feeding Tube, Blindness, and Seizures. He never walked a step. He never said one word. He had great impact on everyone around him. You could see the love of Jesus in those eyes. The things he endured with a smile. If he ever had an itch inhis life it was never scratched. He couldn’t do it and he couldn’t tell anybody. The world says irrelevant and no value. I disagree. I saw it everyday for almost 16 years. There is no irrelevant when there is Jesus.


    • O Terri, you are so right! Life is precious, and your mother-love for that sweet young man is inspiring. Thank you for commenting.


  3. Elaine,
    I love your writing and regret that I no longer have my dear partner to make this trip.

    Near the end you said, “I don’t have a book to follow…” but I think you do. You have followed the most important book of all. That is why you have been successful on this journey. God’s Word leads us through the good and the bad and prepares us for this journey.


  4. I am kind of in the middle of this. I have a mother who feels the way you do and am going to counseling to get over my past with her. I am also entering a time when I can see feeling this way, kind of already am with outside family members. I hope that as Stan and I grow into old age together that we can begin to have a new relationship with the Lord. Right now I must admit we are too busy to consult Him all the time, He is faithful nonetheless. I am in some aspects looking forward to “the golden years” especially with my sweetheart!!! Some of it scares me though, being forgotten… you speak to me as a mom – and I see my own mom, who lives upstairs.. and she is forgotten at times by her only daughter. I hope my children are different than me and don’t follow my example, in that aspect. Love you!!!


  5. When I grow up and grow old, I want to be just like Elaine! You are never going to be old in your spirit, and you are never going to be irrelevant in His sight. As long as you don’t start sounding like the Book of Lamentations, I think you have this season in your life conquered.


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