I was a sophomore in high school when, in an English literature class, I discovered the works of Robert Browning (1812-1889). His writings appealed to me then and even more today. My favorite is his classic poem “Rabbi Ben Ezra.” In it are these words:
“Grow old along with me!
The best of life is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, ‘A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid.’”
By the time I was 20, the thought of growing old was not appealing to me. I wanted to remain a young adult for a long time. Now, I’m convinced each life stage has its own joys and sorrows.
Today, I’m a full-fledged senior adult, and I can honestly report the joys far outweigh the losses. There is a wonderful freedom in being able to structure your own time and activities. When you arrive at the senior stage, your priorities become crystal-clear. For me, they are: Seeking to live my life joyfully as a Christian, enjoying and supporting my children and their spouses, my grandchildren and their spouses and now three great-grandchildren, enjoying and encouraging a wide ring of friends and intentionally living fully each day, remembering that this life has an expiration date.
My losses, also, are painfully clear. Most prominent are the family members and friends I have loved and lost, especially a 20-year-old son and my husband, who died five years ago. I’m thankful they live on in our family memories and conversations, and in the life to come.
Then there are physical losses that need to be dealt with, such as slower mobility, loss of hearing and impaired sight. The attributes that have helped me most as I’ve faced losses are gratitude, humor and remembering the words of Jesus: “Lo, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
So, “Grow old along with me. The best of life is yet to be.”
Contact Nell Mohney at firstname.lastname@example.org.