Today I turned 64. All I can think of is the Beatles’ song:
“Will you still need me…
will you still feed me…
when I’m sixty-four?”
Those words, recorded by Paul McCartney in 1966, have been on a loop in my head since I got out of bed this morning. Trying not to feel threatened by the number 64, I’ve comforted myself knowing Paul couldn’t have been very old when he wrote it. Most sixty-somethings can still feed themselves. (In researching it, I learned he was only 16. It figures.)
The Beatles song is said to have been the longing of one young lover to another, the expression of a hope that their relationship would be a marathon, not a sprint.
Feeling nostalgic, I took a look at my own young loverhood via youthful diaries. Reading through the “capers” of my teenage self dating seven boys at once, reminded me of the biblical tag, “youthful foolishness.” But that was me. In searching for the perfect date, I was really looking for the perfect mate. So did I find him?
My “Dear Diary” pages about Nate’s and my early marriage resounded with a happy “yes”. But memories of the 40 years between then and now force a tempering of that enthusiasm. Hard times have been sprinkled over happy ones, and we’ve gradually learned to find blessing in ordinary days.
Viewed in a rear view mirror, the most difficult seasons of our marriage, the times labeled “hard” or even “awful” when going through them, can now be seen as having been for our good. We didn’t learn much when life was all laughter and fun. A preacher once said, “God isn’t interested in our happiness. He’s interested in our growth.” I believe it.
Despite being able to point back to periods of sadness, disappointment and pain, Nate and I are still together as we cross the threshhold of 64, ten days apart. We see personal growth and lots of good coming out of life’s occasional “bad”.
In 1983, I hung a plaque on our bedroom wall:
“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.”
That year we celebrated our 14th anniversary with five children around the table and an overly busy family life. The plaque exuded encouragement to keep going.
Today, having traveled 26 additional years down the marriage road, we still look at that plaque every day. And we really get it now. That middle line about keeping together is a required stepping stone to a Golden Anniversary party. In marriage there are points for just showing up.
The last line about working together eliminates the option of working against each other. Satisfying marriages get really good at side-by-side.
So, what’s the bottom line about reaching 64? Paul sang, “When I’m sixty-four, you’ll be older, too.” When a husband and wife buy into this truth, life calms considerably. Pressure is lifted, and expectations line up with reality. This has been our experience.
Looking back, I think each of us did pretty well in the search for a perfect mate. Yes, sixty-four is off to a good start. And by the way, we even ate our birthday cake without anyone having to feed it to us.