LIVING LIFE IN YOUR 70’s
April 29, 2018
Some months back I was asked, along with some other ladies of our church, to tell those gathered of what it is like living in this segment of your life . . . be it 30’s or 40’s or 50’s etc. I was asked to share about my experience with life in my 70’s.
First Question: WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT LIFE IN YOUR 70’s?
My first response was: I’m surprised I made it this far! That’s a lot of years and a lot of living. My second thought was: I’m glad I don’t look like my grandmothers. As dear to me as they were they had fuller figures. They wore corsets that cinched you in in the middle and pushed you up on top. Their shoes were black with block heels and laces up the front. They wore dresses. No-one wore slacks or pants in those years. The only woman who seemed to get away with that, and who created quite a stir, was the actress Kathryn Hepburn. In my 70’s I am free to wear slacks, pants, or Jean’s. I even wear a bathing suit to the “Y” three days a week for water aerobics. You should see all of us seniors. We come in all shapes and sizes—it’s a pitiful sight, but HEY—we’re moving and getting a good work-out which is easier on our joints.
When one of my grandmother’s went to the beach she wore her black shoes, a print dress with a jacket and a hat UNDER the umbrella—warning us all that we would be sorry some day for the hours we baked ourselves in the sun—and no sunscreen in those days. She warned that all that sunning would damage our skin and she was right. I have the sunspots on these hands, on my back and the ones on my face are covered up with the help of Mary Kay cosmetics.
In my senior years, I am glad for modern medicine and constant information telling us how to eat healthy and stay healthy. In grandma’s day, when you walked into the kitchen for breakfast, you saw your, soon to be eaten, eggs floating in a half inch of bacon grease. She would most likely be basting them on top with more bacon grease to make sure the tops were cooked. This bacon greased was kept on the back of the stove in a small tin or bowl. I never saw it go into the refrigerator—whoever heard of canola oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil in those days. I suppose if you were Italian you did know about olive oil—by the way, bacon grease sure does make things taste good!
When I said I was surprised that I even made it this far in life—I owe it all to the Lord and to modern medicine. In the late 1970’s and early 80’s I had many a surgeries. Three in the last three years since my husband, Jim, has been gone. I will not bore you with one paragraph listing all the various surgeries I have had. I will tell you, if it were not for three of these surgeries I would have died three times. So to complete this topic I will only say—I am patched up—stitched up and propped up by 6 pieces of titanium. Those 6 pieces represent 2 hips, 2 knees and 2 shoulder replacements. All this keeps me up-right and vertical.
The next question I was to answer for the ladies was: WHAT HAS BEEN THE UNIQUE STRUGGLES IN THIS PHASE OF YOUR LIFE?
Losing my Jim three years ago. Sending him off to be with Jesus and having peace with that is hard. Being a widow after a good marriage of 54 years to a wonderful man is not easy. The void is great.
These past three years I have been looking at my life, as if through the rear view mirror of the car—reliving our lives we had together, each decade at a time. I find myself watching old movies that Jim liked and that we enjoyed watching together. I miss sitting with him next to me in church. I miss him being with me as I watch the happenings of our sons and our grandchildren, all the while asking God—why did you have to take him from me?
Thinking in the PAST and living in the NOW is like a stagnant pool of water—if it sits there very long it is not healthy. I have a little book titled “Besides Still Waters: Meditation Moments from the Psalms” by Millie Stamm. One day I read: When the music is gone out of your soul God does not snap us in two and throw us away. He mends and restores. That is what God is doing with me this day and at this time in my life—mending and restoring me.
I have to take my eyes off the past and look forward. This is a new life, a different life as a single woman finding her way in a couples’ world. Scripture tells us in Psalms 91:1 “He who’d dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Ask any widow or single person, who is a believer, when the scriptures tell us “the Lord is our husband” it is so true. It is amazing how much HE helps me with even the littlest of things to the very big ones. For instance, Jim did 90% of the book work. I had to go into files, papers, cabinets, etc. and make sense of it all. Now every time I enter the office (which I have re-named The War Room) the Lord and I have a little talk. I pray for wisdom, understanding, direction and solutions. When the storms of life break in on us we have a secret place where we can run for safety and be with the Lord and under His care.
Isaiah 40:31 “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.”
The next topic for this senior woman in her 70’s is: WHAT THINGS (resources, Bible study, mentoring, and prayer life) HAVE BEEN MOST HELPFUL TO YOU DURING THIS PHASE?
After years of Bible Study Fellowship and years with Christian Woman’s Club Bible Study and witnessing programs I now enjoy the Tuesday Morning Bible Study we have here at Faith with Dawn Darby leading us. This last year we studied J.C, Ryle’s book “Holiness.” This study and book were powerful and convicting. I have been in a lot of studies with a lot of woman through the years and I’ve never been among such a mature group of Christian woman as we have here at Faith Presbyterian Tacoma.
At home I have my Bible reading and three devotionals that help start my day and get my head on straight. One is “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. She writes to you as if Jesus were speaking to you personally. She backs it all up with scripture. It ceases to amaze me how the days reading was just what I was facing for the day. I follow that reading with “Our Daily Bread,” a ministry started many years ago—the year I was born, in fact—imagine that—so many years ago! There is scripture reading, followed with story applications. Then finally, the little book I referred to earlier “Beside Still Waters.” I had this book in my night stand for a very long time and rediscovered it this last year. Let me share with you something that taught me a lot about the 23rd Psalm and the mind of sheep.
Sheep will not lie down if they are hungry. The shepherd searches for the best pasture land available for his sheep. Our Good Shepherd knows we need to be well nourished for inner satisfaction. He provides nourishment for us from the green pastures of His Word. Nourished by it, we can lie down in quiet contentment.
Occasionally, He has to MAKE us lie down. It may take illness, loneliness, heartache, or sorrow to accomplish this.
Not only does the shepherd lead his sheep in the green meadows of nourishment and rest, but beside the still waters. We are refreshed at the waters of quietness. The word for “still” waters can be translated “stilled” waters. Sheep will not drink from a rushing stream. They instinctively know that if their coat of wool becomes wet, they could drown. Sometimes the shepherd builds a little dam in a rushing stream to enable the flock to drink from “stilled” waters.
At times the swift moving streams of life almost engulf us. God has to dam up a quiet stream where we can come and drink deeply of the Water of Life. We may discover that the very circumstances dreaded most bring spiritual refreshment.
The last question to answer is: WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART OF BEING IN YOUR 70’s?
First off, senior discounts are nice. Small everyday courtesies and kindnesses from people you don’t even know. My white hair and the years they read on my face cause some of these actions from others. The best one was when I went to the airport to travel on my own, since Jim passing. The lady checking my luggage looked at me and said “Would you like a WHEELCHAIR?” I thought for moment and remembered how far the walk was to Alaska Airlines gate. My reply was YES, I WOULD. What a way to go. I might add I have been using one ever since when I fly. I no longer needed to stand in the long zig zag line waiting to go through security. They wheel me right ahead. They put my stuff in the box that has to go through the machine while I walk through the human machine. When I come out the other side I get back in the wheelchair and wait for the porter to bring me my “stuff” and away we go to the gate. When I come off the plane there is a wheelchair waiting there with my name on it and a person to wheel me to baggage claim. So slick, so cool, so easy!
Finally ladies, and I will close by telling you, I do not take myself too seriously, as I did in my younger days. When we walk with Jesus we have to take our eyes off ourselves and focus on Him. Let me read to you a short paragraph from “Jesus Calling.”
Don’t take yourself so seriously. Lighten up and laugh with Me. You have Me on your side, so what are you worried about? I can equip you to do absolutely anything, as long as it is My will. The more difficult your day, the more I yearn to help you. Anxiety wraps you up in yourself, trapping you in your own thoughts. When you look at Me and whisper My Name, you break free and receive My help. Focus on Me, and you will find Peace in My Presence. The scriptures references for this are: Philippians 4:13 and Proverbs 17:22 (AMP).
As I close all this I will tell you, as of June 10th I am now, in a new decade. Only God knows what is ahead for me. Some great scholar once said: Yesterday is a cancelled check—Tomorrow is a promissory note. As Christians we know the Tomorrow is God’s Secret—but Today is yours to live. Live it for Him!