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.