One day last week while draining my morning cup of coffee for the sixth or was it the seventh time, I can’t remember, a thought struck me. It has been such a long time since a thought has struck me I did not know what to make of it. I felt a little dizzy at the moment. When I regained my senses I shared my thought with my wife.
“I’ve had a strange thought just now,” I said to the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.
“I’m not surprised,” she said as she cleared the breakfast table.
“No,” I said, “I’m serious. It just dawned on me that our kids have gotten older.”
“Well,” she said just a little impatiently, “there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“Yea,” I replied soberly, “if they’re getting older it means I’m getting older and there’s something radically wrong about that.”
I don’t know what it is about getting older that causes a pause for some serious thought. When you are young there is so much going on a person doesn’t have time to think about such things. Then when the children come into the home with so much noise and commotion, who can think about anything.
The silence tip-toeing around our breakfast table that morning invited more thoughts along this line. I don’t remember getting older. It must creep up on a person when said person is otherwise occupied. If age is going to come to my house it should have the decency to at least ring the doorbell.
Age, I think, is a relative thing, which is good because I have a lot of relatives a lot older than me. Age, after all, is just a number and who gets intimidated by numbers. Well, actually I do, because when your number’s up you’re outta here.
As my wife and I chatted about this development we both came to the same conclusion. (It is a smart husband who concludes with his wife, especially at the same time.) If parents live long enough they eventually arrive at the empty nest stage. It is the ultimate prize of aging. Evidently we both had outrun that stagecoach full of boisterous children and arrived at the depot called “empty nest.”
After the shock of our present circumstance subsided, we began probing the state of our present affairs and came up with a few thoughts about being an empty nester. How can a person really tell when they get to this auspicious point in life?
If the house is quiet, the phone isn’t ringing and the refrigerator is full, you just might be an empty nester.
If it’s Thursday and you don’t have to take any kids to softball practice across town in the middle of rush hour traffic, you just might be an empty nester.
If it’s Saturday evening and the house is quiet and you and the missus have no place to go, you just might be an empty nester.
If you’re at a restaurant and the maitre d’ asks “how many?” and you don’t have to stop and count, you just might be an empty nester.
Now that my wife and I have entered this uncharted region of the empty nester, I have taken some pains adjusting to it and, amazingly enough, the change was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I have come to agree with a friend of mine who says, “I’m planning on getting as old as I can.”
One major benefit of getting older came to the surface. With the house shrouded in quietness — day and night — there is plenty of time for romance. I had almost forgotten what romance was but I was ready to rediscover it. Romance lasts a lifetime, which if you’re lucky may include two or three moments of acting on it.
Now that we are getting older and the children are grown, my wife and I can find loads of time for romance — we just can’t find the energy.
Actually, it’s easy to find time for romance; it’s just hard to synchronize the time with my wife.
Then, when miracle of miracles happens and we finally work the timing and energy synchronization, the doorbell rings and the grandchildren arrive for a visit.
Grandchildren are notorious for burgling both time and energy from everyone older than they are.
When they leave they suck all the energy out of the house and we slump into our chairs, deliriously exhausted enjoying the ringing sensation in our ears.
“It’s nice to have the grandchildren visit,” I said.
Looking at me from across the living room she queried, “Do you really mean that?”
With a marvelous feeling of satisfaction I replied, “I honestly do.”
Staring out the window she sighed, “It’s nice to have them leave, too.”
Obviously, she was more honest than I was.
The Bible has a lot to say about children and grandchildren. In the quietness of the moment I leafed through my Bible and read several passages.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalms 127:3 — 5 (KJV.)
And of course, “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers” Proverbs 17:6 (KJV.)
Grandchildren are God’s way of apologizing for getting older.
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I sure did enjoy this, and I got quite a chuckle out of this line: "If age is going to come to my house it should have the decency to at least ring the doorbell." Thank you for the laugh. I know exactly what you are talking about. My wife and I are now into the great-grandchild stage. Thanks again. Thomas, www.dustonthebible.com