Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bumps in the Journey

As a person ages, losses come.

Tennis was my first huge loss after I ruptured a tendon in my leg during a competitive set of doubles between Gwen and her second cousin, John, and Pops and I. Although our opponents were much younger, Pops and I gave them a challenge. We had rally after rally and the game was close. One team would get ahead, then the other would bring it to a tie and take the lead. Then we'd repeat it.

Suddenly I heard a big "twang" in my head, and I fell to the court in agony.

I tried to play tennis after that, but the strength in that leg disappeared. I could no longer jump or push off quickly to go after the ball. I don't think I won another game. The orthopedist said I'd eventually have problems with that knee, and I did. Because I compensated with the other leg to avoid pain, both joints began to bother me. Finally, I had knee replacements and I was told to never run again.

Another big loss was wearing out joints in both thumbs. The years of writing several hundred stories a year at the newspaper, plus other wear and tear on my thumbs, caused me to be unable to turn a key in a lock and to need to use two hands to turn the ignition key in the car.

I woke one morning before work unable to move my right hand. The doctor diagnosed tendonitis, gave me a shot and ordered rest for it.

I tried to work with casts on my hands (nearly impossible), and decided surgery was inevitable. My wise editor advised me to have my left thumb done first, since I am right handed. I did that, and although the thumb joint now moved and I could grasp things correctly, it was far from as good as new. I opted not to have surgery on the other thumb since I could retire, and I'd had too many complications with surgery on the other one.

Work wasn't the only thing I had to give up, however. I'd played piano at church most of my life, then when my thumbs started giving me grief I switched to the organ because it was easier on the hands.

After hand surgery, I never played in church again. I do play for my own enjoyment, but I can't play the same way I used to.

Then we moved to another state and after singing almost two decades in a trio with a couple of wonderful women, that era was gone! No longer would we get together every couple of weeks or so, visit, laugh, pray and sing until our hearts nearly overflowed. How I remember those uplifting songs, the close harmony, the other gals' solos on verses now and then, and the joyful response of the church!

Losses keep coming. I'm no longer addicted to a beautiful yard, although I still do outside work because when something needs to be done, I'll do it. I had to give up my high heels because of my knees, and dresses and skirts are almost a thing of the past because they aren't attractive with flat shoes; and I can't seem to keep warm from the waist down.

Not too long ago, because of another health problem, I gave up swimming, something I've loved since I was a teenager when I swam in irrigation canals, floating downsteam on my back or an innertube. Now I walk a track and ride a stationary bike for exercise.

I could look at the past and weep for my losses. Or I could look at the future instead with great enthusiasm like my friend, Ruth, a missionary. Ruth told me when you know the Lord, each phase of life is more exciting than the last.

I can vouch for that. Who would have a clue that two retired people like Pops and me would have so much fun that we'd hurry to keep the work caught up in between? We're busy meeting with family, sharing our lives as we've never been able to in our younger years. We meet all sorts of interesting and terrific people. We experienced and saw things in our travels I never dreamed I'd see.

But because our lives are more relaxed, we can enjoy each other more. Sometimes we just go out for a simple meal. Other times we spend an evening watching the St. Louis Cardinals play ball, or we'll get out the Double 12 set of Dominoes and play the old-fashioned kind where you add up the dots and you score if your total ends in 5 or 0. Lately we've been playing Scrabble because our next door neighbors play Scrabble and we've played with them and want to improve our game.

We get together with friends or relatives for other games, but the favorite is Rook.

I admit I usually whine a lot if I end up with a whole evening of bad Rook cards, but if I and my partner lose, I'll declare triumphantly, "We put up a good fight--and we just spent two hours in Alzheimer's prevention!"

Of course, we spend lots of time in church and in Bible studies and prayer. Many people don't understand that, but Psalm 16:11 is true: "In His presence is fullness of joy!"

Another thing that's happened as I've aged, my love for God has grown. I have more time (or I make time) for private study of the Word and prayer. I've been a student of the Bible since my teens and I still almost gasp with the truths and amazing things there.

Most awesome is my Heavenly Father's love for me. The least I can do is to obey the First Commandment not to have any God's before Him, which Jesus said means to love Him with all my heart, all my soul, and with all my mind (Matthew 22:37).
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When you know God and accept His Son as Savior, loving God is easy. And as the song says, the longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.