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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Let’s grow old together

By Jan Davis
PREVIEW Columnist

I have scoured through countless bookstores, YouTube videos and podcasts in a futile attempt to find a manual on “How to Grow Old Together.”

Hundreds of self-help books line the shelves, while YouTube and podcasts provide countless online information.

We find pregnancy books with step-by-step expectations and pictures which include the baby’s growth in the womb.

Children’s tutorials guide us through potty training and tantrums. Textbooks and videos for parents of elementary to middle school children offer creative ideas on how to start open-ended discussions with a quiet first-grader and a know-it-all middle schooler.

Pamphlets cover sex education, bullying, teenage rebellion, the quiet treatment and how to dish out tough love.

Newlyweds plan a home together as they watch podcasts from mainstream evangelists with goal-setting directives. Empty nesters watch DIY shows on how to “take back” space. Spare bedrooms are converted into offices and exercise rooms. Retirees cuddle on the couch and scan through travel brochures and dream of faraway places and second honeymoons.

I assumed life got easier after years of marriage, but I discovered otherwise. Like Rip Van Winkle, I woke up one morning to realize I am married to an older version of the person I started this journey with. When did the transformation occur?

The man who completed my sentences and knew my every thought seems to wander down his own rabbit trail. He jumps from one idea to another without warning and I catch myself saying, “What are you talking about?” He starts a conversation and I jump in and say, “Where is this coming from?”

I can’t keep up with more than one back and forth at a time. A simple exchange about the rainy road conditions leads to a comprehensive overview of new tires. The weather reminded Mike the tires are a little threadbare and need to be replaced before winter. To him, everything makes sense.

It’s easy for me to stray off on my own, with Mike’s banter as background noise.

In my mind I fingered through the clothes in my closet for just the right outfit to wear for our date night, when he ambushes me with an online order for groceries to pick up on our way home. I didn’t have time nor desire to go through the pantry and make a grocery list. I was preoccupied mulling over which pair of shoes to wear.

The date was one for the memory book. Soft music laced its way in and out of our conversation while we enjoyed the lights of the city. From our table situated close to the window on the sixth floor, we recognized the steeples of historical churches. Skyscrapers lit up like Christmas trees cast soft shadows on the streets below. Rail cars were loaded and awaited shipment to some unknown destination.

 These points of interest were intertwined into our conversations. The companies that occupied the various buildings and the people who worked inside. The parishioners who worshiped on Sunday mornings in the churches. The workers on the railroads who made sure needed commodities made it to their destination. We relaxed in the comfortable atmosphere.

With the quiet, back-and-forth motion of the windshield wipers, I leaned my head back and reflected on the delicious dinner we enjoyed. The steak melted in our mouths and a scrumptious dessert topped off the evening.

The sound of the gentle rain on the highway beckoned me to close my eyes.

Tires and groceries were the last thing on my mind as we drove home with full tummies and the lingering effects of a nice glass of wine. Did I mention it was our anniversary date? Thirty-seven years and about the time we start to achieve the hang of married life, a curve ball is thrown our way and we understand we are no longer a young couple. Somewhere along the way, we grew old.

A voice in the background disturbs the tranquility. “Gotta drive a little slower than usual. It’s dark outside, the streets are wet and these tires don’t have as much traction as they should.”

Here we go again. Same song, second verse.

I wish I could blame Mike for all of life’s newfound woes, but truth is some of the fault lies at my feet. Somewhere along the way, I became a nag and Mike’s quirky personality creates little annoyances and messes with my peaceful solitude.

I am a perpetual planner and organizer. I make lists and schedules. I plan out our day. Mike is the driver and I am the navigator. Together we make a good team. But, in a season when calendars are vital to our mere existence, schedules and lists have taken a backseat. Tomorrow isn’t as important as today.

On the other hand, afternoon naps, though never planned, replace any sense of urgency. A last-minute lunch and easy back-and-forth banter births a creative idea and we head to the nearby greenhouse or home improvement store. We live in the spur of the moment and embrace life.

 Maybe, just maybe, that’s the way God intends for us to live: one day at a time.

As we grow older, we are not always on the same page, but manage to stay in sync as we continue to read the Bible — the best “how to book” ever written. Guidelines for a successful marriage fill its pages.

“Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” — James 4:14 (NKJV).

I love you, but Jesus loves you more.

This column includes both fiction and nonfiction, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN. Submissions can be sent to editor@pagosasun.com.

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