Can you Say “Commitment?”

Can you Say “Commitment?”

In just a few weeks, Ann’s parents will be celebrating a milestone that few others in this country will ever be able to—they will be married for 65 years. Although it may never make the nightly news, this is a noteworthy event for numerous reasons. They were born during the great depression and had to endure a world war before they became adults. During their lifetime they have witnessed loved ones and people they know succumbing to Polio, the Asian flu, AIDS and of course the top 3 killers, Cancer, Heart Disease and Stroke. Their first house cost them $13,000 and dad was making under $2 an hour when they signed the contract for that house. After 7 children, they have lived in that same house for over 54 years. In the course of their lifetime they have seen improved plumbing, stable electricity, improved infrastructure, color TV, cable TV, TV dinners, microwave ovens, restaurants, the internet, the individual line telephone, the cordless phone, the cell phone, automobiles and much more. They have also experienced fresh raw, unpasteurized cow’s milk delivered to their door, free-roaming chicken eggs, grass-fed cow’s meat, and vast gardens filled with large, pesticide free vegetables and fruits. They know what “canning” means, what “pure” water is and “fresh” air. As they grew older, they didn’t have to drive an hour to work, there was little need to go “grocery” shopping since their back yard was their main supplier of food. Their children had the luxury of growing up in a small town with large backyards and many children to roam around with and play “kick the can”. As long as we were in the house before dark, we had free access to just be kids. As an at-home mom, she kept our tummies full, our shoes shined for church on Sunday morning, and when we were sick, she rocked us in that creaky rocking chair for as long as we needed her. For Christmas, we each received a new pair of recently knitted slippers complete with the big pom-pom ball on each one. The girls received new doll clothes that were knitted with beautiful, shiny yarn and we all donned new stocking caps and scarves. This was also a good time to get new underwear and socks. They each have only one sibling left. They have buried all of their other siblings and both parents. While their health is not perfect, they are both ambulatory, still live in their house and go to church nearly every day if there is no snowstorm that shuts down the roads. Habits are now their best friend. They know just what they will be eating in the morning nearly exactly the same time each day. They know the TV shows they will be watching after they come home from church. The mid morning nap is followed by a small lunch. The afternoon is spent reading or working on a puzzle, followed by another nap. After the evening meal, the TV becomes their friend unless one of the nearly 40 grandchildren stops by to see them and show off one of the new “great” grandchildren. They are the consummate hosts and will wear themselves down to exhaustion just to make their guest feel comfortable. They are indeed blessed with the gift of “hospitality.” What can we learn from them? Throughout their lives, they have learned to continue to look up. They look up to see if the rain will keep their gardens growing so their food can continue to be harvested. They look up to remind them of all of their loved ones who have gone before them and are paving the way for their arrival. And they continue to look up and pray to the only One who can keep them grounded in the realization that no matter what happened to their retirement fund when the stock market crashed in the 1980’s, or when their beautiful baby girl was born full-term without life, or when their son left for Vietnam and wasn’t heard from for over 2 years, or when their little girl spent Christmas in a hospital hours away just as they had given birth to their youngest son, or when dad was let go from his job, just before he was to retire, not allowing him to obtain his full pension…no matter what happened, God is still in control. Their commitment to each other, to their family and to God has been the greatest lesson any of us can learn from them. We all struggle staying committed to our diets, our exercise plans, our jobs and our spouses. Imagine, having the strength to commit to anyone or anything for 65 years. These are the unsung heroes of today. These are the people who we should hold up to the limelight and use as role models. They may look weathered, worn, and weary, but it is their genes that I am carrying right now and to say I am proud would be the greatest understatement. God bless you mom and dad, for giving me the greatest gift of all—life! elder-post-care

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