In reality there is nothing special about reaching an age ending with zero. It is only because we have a number system based on the number ten that we give those decade years special significance. However, there seems to be some value in having markers that prompt us to pause and take stock of our lives – to take a look at our lives until now and to look ahead at prospects for the future. As you might have guessed, I passed my 70th birthday last week.
One of the things I don’t like about being 70 is that other people think I’m old. I’m annoyed when younger people insist on helping me do things I can do for myself. On my birthday I was asked how it feels to be 70. My response was that I can’t think of anything I could do yesterday that I can’t do today, so I guess it’s OK.
Looking back, I have much to be thankful for. I was born into a family that supported me in many ways with the gift of faith in God, encouragement in developing my passion for learning and my parents’ example of how to live a long life with great love for each other. They are always with me.
I was given the opportunity to get a great education and use it in educating college and high school students. There is great satisfaction in looking back on the great successes of students that I know about and the confidence that there are many others.
Of course, none of that holds a candle to the effect of my relationship with Rita through the 50+ years we have known each other and 46+ years of our marriage. She continues to be my best friend and the love of my life. Together we raised four children and have watched and are delighted by the way they are living their lives and the 7 grandchildren we enjoy.
The Marriage Encounter weekend we made in 1974 started us on a path of supporting other marriages and many opportunities for us to grow in our relationship. I have been transformed by Rita’s love and am a better person because of it. It is satisfying to look back and know that we have been able to positively influence many other marriages.
There have been low points of course – the disappointment of giving up on earning my doctorate and a period in which our relationship was tested among them. At the time they were big things – looking back they were bumps in the road that helped us grow stronger.
Overall, I can look back on my life and our lives together with some satisfaction that my life has been imperfect, but also positive for me, us and others.
Now I am aware that Mile Marker 70 is not the end of the journey, but an indicator of progress. I am aware that the end of my life is coming closer and is something I cannot escape, so I try to accept that I don’t know when or where. It serves to give me some urgency in how I look to the future. I’m writing from Texas where we are catching up with friends we haven’t seen for a while. The trip so far has been wonderful in spite of a minor glitch last week. I got caught in a Texas speed trap and received a $300 ticket. It was annoying, but we can also laugh about it. At least I can still drive, and reconnecting with friends is more important.
I look forward to spending time with our children and grandchildren. I hope to see all the grandchildren grow up. We will enjoy babysitting with 3 of them in Ohio next week. I try to interact with them and give them good memories as well as share some family history with them. I still have a strong desire to write on multiple subjects and currently have two projects underway, along with keeping this blog alive.
We love to travel and are planning a trip to Istanbul and the Holy Land later this year. We hope to travel in Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand in the next couple of years.
Most of all I look forward to loving Rita and being loved by her. I ask God for many more years to be aware of His love in the way we love each other. And I ask for the grace to continue to be positive about life and able to take whatever declines I must accept with grace and acceptance.
Meanwhile, I intend to move forward with joy and gusto. I hope to reach the end of a long life with some things left that I just couldn’t get to. Mile Marker 80, I’m on my way!
We often say that two things are certain—death and taxes. I’d like to add to that aging. While Bob just passed a milestone, two of our children did on their last birthdays as well. Our daughter turned forty and our youngest son turned thirty. They both lamented the fact that they were aging. On the other hand two of our granddaughters reach milestones this year as well, Elizabeth turns sixteen and Leah thirteen. Both are rejoicing in the privileges and distinctions these milestones bring.
I enjoy the months after Bob’s birthday until mine because I jokingly comment on the fact that he is two years older than I. It has been great for us to be away to celebrate his birthday. I have been taking pictures of him as we do things. Perhaps when we get home I will put together a collage to remember this historic moment. But more importantly being away has given us the opportunity to talk about us and our relationship. It just reminded us that the issues are no different than when we turned thirty, forty, fifty or sixty. In our relationship we still have to talk about how we communicate, what we do with and in our sexual relationship and how our relationship with God continues to change.
So while I don’t have a significant milestone birthday this year I still face all the same things Bob mentioned above. For me the line from Luke’s Gospel always comes to mind on my birthday. It’s the final verse referencing when the Holy Family left Jerusalem after Jesus was found in the Temple. It says that Jesus went back to Nazareth with his parents and grew in wisdom, age and favor before God. My prayer for Bob and me on this milestone occasion is that TOGETHER we grow in wisdom, age and favor before God for several more decades. Enjoy aging because the alternative isn’t very exciting.
Bob and Rita’s book: Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime, is available on Amazon.com. Also available Kindle and Nook formats. See their program offering at Readabookpress.com