I hate getting old. No, wait! I kind of like getting old. Can I be honest? I’m 63, and at this point, I’m no longer an overworked, chauffeur mom plucking a few gray hairs. I’m a bonafide empty nester grandma, and gray hairs are even in my eyebrows!
This summer, my husband John turned 65 and signed up for Medicare, something I thought was in the misty and nebulous future. Well, that future is now. As astonishing as it is to me, we are SENIORS!.
Where we are in life can be summed up like this: Two years ago, the first time we made love after my husband’s mitral heart valve replacement/aorta repair, we high-fived each other afterwards.
“I DIDN’T DIE!” he yelled.
“WOOHOO, WE ARE GOOD TO GO!” I shouted.
As of today, God has given us 37+ years of wedded life’s blissful ups and crashing downs. He has blessed us with 5 good daughters, now grown and college educated, 4 of them married to good men, and the 5th just embarking on a career. The “reward” for all that work is 4 grandchildren (so far). The youngest is a dimpled boy whose favorite word, to John’s delight, is “car.”
All those newlywed years ago, we used to wonder how we’d be when we were empty nesters. Would we still be passionately in love? On our wedding night, I distinctly remember joking, “Our passion will eventually morph into feelings of warmth and contentment as we sit on the sofa holding hands and listening to the clock tick.”
And we laughed. How we laughed!
No, wait! Doesn’t that actually happen now sometimes?
Lately, haven’t we been feeling just a trifle entitled to be lazy with our lives and our marriage, feeling that we have earned, even deserved a rest? Yes, and yes! So why not put down the plow for a time? Even God rested on the 7th day, right?
Those feelings of contentment, of “mission accomplished,” were actually tinged with something like loneliness and disconnection, and were taking hold precisely because we were too complacent. SCREECH! BACK UP! Weren’t we just stuck to the flypaper of a pleasant trap labeled “empty nester?”
Marriage is a living thing, never done, never completed. We are bound until death to work on strengthening our love, our kindness, our generosity, and our commitment to each other and our world, never resting, because we ever carry in our bodies the life and death of Jesus!
2 Corinthians 4:11 has it right: For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So, back to work! It will be a different work in many ways, of course, but our attitude must be that of the Lord’s servants until he comes for us or until he comes again. Sure, we can pick up our Social at 70, or 66.7, we can get the Airstream, and hand over the cooking of Thanksgiving dinner (but not the gravy) to the younger generation, but to be true to our souls and our matrimony, and to be a beacon to our children, we can never really rest on our laurels while we draw breath. As St. Paul said, “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up” Galatians 6:9.
Therefore our waiting must be for the Lord: “I believe I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14).