“I hope I go before you.”
My parents are 60+ and they are beginning to think about their ends. Though it might not be too close, yet it isn’t too far either. My dad believes (and silently wishes) for my mom to take the turn first. My mom prays and hopes the same; I know she’s scared. But perhaps, my dad’s love toward her is a little deeper that he doesn’t want her to face his death.
(As a note to remind you all, the A to Z series on relationships isn’t complete yet. I have been writing on the evolution of romantic relationships – from love at first sight, through courtship, marriage, kids, middle age, nesting – and we are at ‘U’ today, with the couple in their old age. You can read all the posts in the series here).
They’ve travelled far together – too far! But they aren’t going to travel together forever. This drama of ‘husband and wife’ has to end somewhere. Fortunately, if the relationship manages to sustain the marital bond, it is most likely to end with the death of one of them (unfortunately).
The post, S for Second Falling in Love – Sixty is Indeed Sexy!, talks about how love re-builds in old age.
With ageing and health issues, you begin to care about each other more than you have ever done before. When she stretches a little late in night to sew the sweaters for your grandchildren, you scorn at her to get to bed. Yes, you begin to get worried about her as much as she does about you. When you accidentally slip in the bathroom, she comes running, almost having skipped a heart beat, utterly shocked and worried. At 60, you reach the deepest stage of love, surpassing the depth in all the romance you’ve experienced in your 20’s.
In your mid 60’s you begin to realize that one of you have to leave the other, one day. Yes, marriages aren’t perfect; but that wouldn’t want you to part from each other in death. That day, that moment, when one of the two has to witness the passing of your beloved partner, is going to be hard. You’ve lived with this person closer and longer than with any of your other relationships. You’ve faced life’s spring and autumn all through together. And one unfortunate day, the bell rings and your marriage dissolves for good in those few moments of his/her last breaths! Some of us will face this one day while the rest of us will face the fear of leaving the other.
I asked a few old-age couples how and what they feel about nearing the deadline of their relationship. This is what most of them had to say:
Perhaps, we could have lived a life with a little more understanding, a little more love, a lot more hugs, a lot more kisses, some more sex, more travels, more patience and a whole lot more of adjustments! Perhaps, this is what young couples are to take from their lessons. As long as we know there are several years ahead, we aren’t going to value the treasure our relationships can offer. The next time when you sit with your parents together for dinner, talk to them about their inner fear of death and bereavement. You will cherish the conversation years after their death. And it may change the way you deal with your spouse.
Here’s a reminder to all of us:
“To have and to hold, from this day forward;
for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
till death do us part.”
Other posts in the A to Z series: