Where we live right now, we’re just a few blocks from the train station, and every few hours, we hear the sound of moving trains and whistles, an almost romantic sound in an era where we can go anywhere in the world without leaving home.
I love trains. I can remember very well how excited I was to take my first train ride, watching every passing field with rapt attention, thrilled to “beat” the cars on the parallel highways, checking each station carefully against the list my father had drawn up for me so I would know exactly where I was every step of the way. I’m going to be taking the train next week to Toronto to see a show, while Jeff is off to his college reunion.
We do this often, take separate weekend adventures, and I firmly believe it’s one of the things that keeps us happy to be with each other. Especially because we’re together so much now, so much more than we ever have been, working together, and working such long, long shifts. Does it make sense to play apart when you work together? For us it does, and that’s what counts.
I think about this, being together so much, having to make a real effort to carve out “private” time from each other occasionally, when I see how the married couples here live together without much chance to be alone at all. When one of the couple, or maybe both, have any of the health challenges faced by the elderly, it’s quite easy to see how one will support and care for the other, sometimes taking it by turns, sometimes one carrying all the burden. But it rarely seems to be a burden. It almost seems to be a pleasure, if that’s not too morbid a word to use when dealing with the effects of ill-health.
There is a commitment in marriage, that line about “in sickness and in health”, which seems to mean even more now at this point in their lives than it did 50 and 60 years ago. I admire that – and I worry that I might not have the strength to carry out that commitment with courage and effectiveness if I’m called on to do so.
So we’re heading out for a bit of an adventure together this morning, and I will think about how easy it is for us to sling a bag in the back seat compared to the difficulty of lifting and folding and shoving a walker into the trunk, and will treasure this time, “in health”, where we’re having fun. But I will also consider the time ahead when it will harder to make a getaway, easier to stay home and in our simple routines. And I will hope to take my mother-in-law’s advice to “enjoy old age while you’re still young enough to do so!”