It’s funny, you can observe what happens to your parents and relatives. But for some reason, you just don’t believe those circumstances will ever apply to you.
As I contemplate my life, the part so far and the part yet to come, here are three things I’ve realized:
1. Your son-in-law will see you old and naked.
You know that young man your daughter is dating? Better hope you like him. Because if she marries him, there will likely come a time when you will be old and feeble, and he will be the one carrying you to the bathroom.
If you live past a certain age, it’s highly probable that your kids’ spouses are going to have to deal with your oldness.
My own husband hoisted both my grandmothers to their beside potty in a hospital room, changed my mother’s sheets when she was sick in bed with cancer and helped my Dad take a shower when he was in the hospital with heart troubles.
He did all of the above in a gracious and manly way that enabled all parties to maintain their dignity.
Lesson: Be nice to your children’s spouses. They will have a huge impact on your quality of life in later years.
2. “In sickness and health” and “for richer or poorer” are not exceptions; they are accurate predictions.
I confess, when I took my marriage vows, all that sickness, health, richer, poorer stuff didn’t truly resonate with me.
I was recently in the downtown hotel where my husband and I had our wedding reception. As I rode up to the top floor in their fancy glass elevator, I realized, the last time I had been in that same elevator, I was 22 years old, wearing my wedding dress and holding hands with my new husband.
As my mature self, I thought, “Wow, if you had told that young couple what was going to happen to them over the course of their life, no one would have believed you!”
The financial highs and lows, the health issues (our own, our kids and our parents) who would have dreamed all that would happen?
Then I realized, anyone older than 40 would have said, “Yep, that sounds about right.”
The only people who wouldn’t have believed that prediction would have been the young couple in the elevator. We would have said, “Oh, no, we have a plan; our lives are going to be awesome.”
The truth is, all those things did happen, and our lives have still been awesome.
Bad times don’t mean failure; they just mean you’re human and therefore equally susceptible to random winds of fate that affect all the other humans.
3. Your life will be magical.
You think the magical moments of your life will happen on big days, but they’re usually more ordinary.
Like a Saturday afternoon when you’re working in the yard, and your 2-year-old comes running across the lawn to you, smiling a huge grin, with the sun at her back, her hair bouncing, and you think, “Wow, this amazing little person is running with her arms stretched out towards ME! Me of all people, regular old me, is with this amazing person who loves me.”
The magic of connection, gratitude and love can show up at work, in nature, at dinner, even at the movies.
But here’s the thing about magic: If you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss it.