Sunday, September 20, 2009

How to Grow Old Together

This couple was in the lobby of a Mayo Clinic. He is 90 and they've been married 62 years, longer than I have been alive.

I watch them and I think of all I have seen and done, things accomplished at too great expense, things I have failed at, all the ways I've fallen and caused grief and pain to those I've loved and fallen out of love with. I think of the unforeseen twists of fate and turns I've taken that took us all down dark paths. I think of the joys mingled with sorrows, the regrets and the grace of happiness unsought and undeserved. I think of the decades of day to day monotonous sacrifices and the secret self indulgences, the unfulfilled goals, the hopes unrealized, the things I've known for over 50 years but know now will never be.

I look at the woman I love who shares my children, my table, my couch, my bed. I think of the deaths and losses we've shared and those we know will come soon, and those that perhaps may come that we cannot imagine. I see the lines of her face in the morning sun, I hold her aging hands, I know her skin, the beauty of her youth lost, the silent frailties now overtaking her bones. The mirror tells me I am closer to death than my birth too. Time has done us both irreparable harm, but I have no desire to hold a hand that has not touched death, nor do I wish to look into glittering, hopeful, shallow eyes that have not seen my world. I have no longing for the false comfort and the old man's lies of an embrace of a smooth body. I want to face the remaining days of my life with the one whose body, soul and spirit have been my faithful companion in all I've reveled in, longed for, ruined, loved and failed at in life.

Who knows what this couple has faced, shared and endured together to get here. But they make it look worth it.

7 comments:

Grace said...

I think that is really the MOST romantic thing I've read in a long time. So often, St. Valentine's Day wishes and such are built on mush. But this is the real thing.

I think the elderly couple are wonderful. Who knows how many times they've done that routine and practiced numbers together. People these days want to know how to make a relationship last, but I don't think many of them are ready for the answer.

Philippa said...

I'm with Grace. Very romantic indeed s-p.

I appreciated it deeply since hubby and I have celebrated 25 years and it is getting better and better.

Thank you!

elizabeth said...

Lovely!

November In My Soul said...

Excellent post. I was talking to the man I used to work for about just the same thing early in the week. My wife has stood by me through Hell and high water. I know that slowly we are becoming one despite (or perhaps because of) the trials we face now. She is a steadfast, honest, smart, loving woman of good counsel and I am fortunate she chose to spend her life with me. Your words of wisdom have to be earned. The distractions of youth distract them from the deeper pools of a relationship.

Nina said...

What a wonderful tribute to someone who just HAS to be as unique as you!

s-p said...

Hi Nina, Yes she is quite wonderful. The funny thing is she's pretty "unflamboyant" and conservative and sometimes just smiles and shakes her head at the stuff I do. Maybe in a way its a symbiotic relationship... there's no "competition", she's the reality part of us and I'm the fiction. :)

Fr. Christian Mathis said...

Thanks again Steve, and I think you are the reality too....just a different sort.