I hope it is obvious why this passage speaks to me in the context of my training. Currently I am in the season of training for the big swim. The spring is not only the season of the year when I prepare for this personal swim, but it is also the season of my life when I am engaging in as many extreme endurance events as I can and still stay alive and married. Looking back, I am beginning to see a structure to my adult life. There were the early years of our marriage, the school years when I earned four degrees and we raised a family, and now the athletic years while I work a new career and have adventures on the weekends.
What comes next? I know not. My hope is that these athletic years will merge with my old age and that old age will be good. For many, aging brings stresses and trials that life does not prepare them or their loved ones for. I have both experienced this with my parents and seen it in older friends of ours. There is failing health, sometimes suffering; at best there is at least some loss of mobility and ability.
For Dad, although he was still very healthy and active, stiffness (arthritis?) prevented him from being able to back his boat trailer anymore. This was a huge stress on him because his fishing, so large a part of his life, changed, diminished, degraded. He could no longer spend a whole day at the place in Carroll County working. Before he passed, he was down to a half day of country work. That's all his body would endure. But he kept at it, doing what he could. That was his nature, personality. He played tennis with his friends a couple of times per week until they died off one by one until they could no longer get up a game.
For Mom, it has been sickness and suffering, the loss of both mobility and autonomy. She no longer drives; she no longer ventures out to take photographs; she no longer spends whole days in her computer room. But she maintains a positive attitude and is amazingly happy.
We had church members we watched age and change and die. I preached their funerals; I pondered mortality and immortality; I grieved. Penny's parents have had the same battles; her mother passed, her father is in decline. We presently have friends who drive to Jackson to see doctors several times per month. Physician visits, medication, medical crises, sickness, confusion, exhaustion are now the norm. They struggle with these things and all I can do for them is pray and talk to them on the phone offering a listening ear and a sympathetic attitude.
How will it be for us, Penny and me, when we enter into that season of life? One thing is for sure: we will either die first or get there. Only our faith can offer us a preparation. No school, no class, no book that I know of addresses the subject other than the Bible. I find that amazing.