Life resembles a bicycle marathon. During the academic years, in low gear, we struggle up an extended hill while staring into the rising sun. In college, we study endless hours and pay large sums to trudge through academia. Finally, we crest the top and graduate only to realize there’s another climb ahead, and though not as steep, it’s much longer.
The challenging trek before us is our job. We peddle with excitement and renewed vigor. With the sun now overhead, we admire our first paycheck and open a checking account. Before the end of the month, most of us discover our pay is just enough to cover our expenses. We struggle uphill through the years, striving to earn money to get married, buy a house, and raise a family. But we race on until we reach the final crest.
On top with the sun at our back, we wipe the sweat from our brow. While gulping from our water bottle, we look behind us. The winding road we’ve just traveled doesn’t look so long from here, and the threatening dangers appear less significant. Finally, we are at the end of our herculean effort.
We return our I.D. badge, tell our coworkers goodbye, and carry the box of personal items out the front door. The exhilaration of our retirement halts for a moment as we glance back at the building that housed our souls for so many days. Then we turn our gaze toward the future, and a smile tugs at the corners of our mouth.
At last, unhindered by occupation, we can pursue our real interests. The hill now slopes downward — a good thing since we’ve less strength. I’ve more free hours now but use them at doctors’ offices. I’m glad I have more time because it takes much longer to do simple tasks. Could it be because I enjoy more coffee breaks?
Through the years, we’ve learned and loved and laughed and cried. We review our trip, forgetting the potholes which jarred us or the loose gravel that caused a spill. I’ve become an “old guys” who reminisce and offers unrequested advice.
Speaking of “old guys,” I’ve always had a friend or two who were older than me. It may have surprised them when I befriend them — though they seemed pleased. I found value in them. They could share pearls of wisdom learned through experience and help me avoid pitfalls. They were friends who had time to listen and converse. Where else could I hear personal stories such as plowing behind horses, marching through Italy, or dropping depth charges over slippery submarines? Gone are most of my pals. They’ve now completed the days ordained for them, and I’m glad we sat together for a while. Andy Rooney said, “The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly man or woman.”
Everyone has value and deserves respect, including those with dementia. As I push Mom through the Alzheimer residence, I try to be friendly as I pass. They are a mother, father, brother, or sister. Even though they may no longer appear to reciprocate, someone loves them but especially God. Each has a story which I’ll never know, and I imagine it’s a good one.
Psalms 139:14-16 NASB
I will give thanks to thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
Wonderful are thy works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from Thee,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Thy book, they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet, there was not one of them.
(©) 2018 Ronald Milburn