My name is Bill Webber and with my wife, I wrote the book on aging successfully, How to Become a Sweet Old Lady instead a Grumpy Old Grouch. I gave many talks to up and coming seniors about how to enjoy your golden years. There were two rules:
Stay positive. Stay active.
That was my own game plan. Marilynn and I would travel. We’d write more books. I’d stay active in church, encouraging the pastors and members. I’d keep preaching, likely as pulpit supply, at other churches.
Then something happened.
I got old.
And it’s not what I expected.
Marilynn died in December of 2013. For five years before that, she was homebound, and I was her 24-7 caretaker. After she was gone, there were a couple of years where I could get out and do things and meet people in my new circumstance. But I have spinal stenosis and serious arthritis of the spine and am in chronic pain. And now, I’ve become one of those famous “shut-ins” everyone talks about helping, like we’re a benign burden yet an opportunity for service–not an underused resource. (More on that another day.)
I’d love to be active. I’d love to do yoga in the park and go to talks and programs. I’d love to feel good and be able to get dressed without help. I’d love to have my short term memory back. Not having it is disappointing and often embarrasing.
I also have to accept that I won’t die the way I hoped to: in the pulpit, inspiring folks and pointing to Jesus.
One hard thing is that my condition doesn’t show. I look fine. If I make it to church one Sunday and don’t the next, it’s assumed I was playing hookey and staying home, not that I don’t have the energy to get out of my chair let alone the door, or to and from a service.
For me, personally, the hardest thing is not being helpful. I’d love to accomplish things each day, to have goals and make contributions to the lives of my family and friends.
This first blog is about how things are different than I expected. Perhaps things are different for you, too. If so, I’d like to hear about it. What has surprised you about getting old?
Leave a comment. I’ll be happy to hear from you!