Wising Up

Posted by:
Susan Rooke
June 6, 2019

There’s an old saying that I heard when I lived in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country decades ago:

“Too soon old. Too late smart.”

I spent a year there when I was nineteen, still young enough to believe that these words held no relevance for me—then, or ever. The old folks who quoted the saying (who, now that I think about it, weren’t nearly as old as I believed at the time) would often accompany it with a chuckle and a rueful shake of the head. I, armored by my youth, would feel somewhat superior and amused at the corniness of it all. With no earthly clue what they really meant.

But now, on the cusp of being eligible for Medicare, I think I’m finally starting to figure it out. A contented heart is way more important than . . . stuff. Than convenience. Than proximity. Or at least, that’s what it comes down to for Glen and me.

The other day I texted The Daughter that her father and I have been getting a lot of enjoyment out of life lately. Largely because we spend as much time as possible with each other. With increasing frequency, when there are errands we can combine into one day trip to town, we do them together. Usually it’s Costco, the grocery store, the bank, the post office (sometimes three banks and two post offices), then lunch before heading back home to the country. (After a quick stop at the feed store. Those cows have to eat.) Occasionally there will even be medical appointments. Yes. Astonishing as it seems to me, my husband and I have reached the age when we go to the doctor together.

Then in the late afternoons, we put that busyness behind us and sit out on the porch with our drinks. We watch the cows and the birdlife, study the clouds. We talk about what we accomplished that day, and what the next day might hold. Dull as it sounds, we’ve even been known to bring up the price of hay and what steers are fetching at auction. But it’s not dull, not to us. It’s peaceful. And restorative.

“Hear that?” Glen asks me, when we’ve had a chance to let the quiet settle over us.

“No, what?” I say. “All I hear are the birds.”

He smiles. “Exactly.”

Eventually we go inside to eat something simple and delicious. Dinner is often a collaborative effort. He does the grilling and smoking. I cook in the “freaking working kitchen.” We’ve always got homemade bread on hand, and during the hot months of the year, there’s homemade ice cream. Glen provides much of the meat in the freezers. There’s venison from the whitetail deer and the elk that he hunts, and Black Angus beef from our own steers that he raises. In the fall, there will be dove.

There’s nothing complicated or fussy or elaborate about the meals we make, nor about this new life we live, but it feels luxurious to us. And the more deeply rooted we become, and the more we count on each other for everything that nourishes us, the more distant our old life in the city seems. The conveniences. The easy distances. The stuff. All less necessary than we’d believed.

Too soon old. Too late smart. But give me a little more time. I’m learning.

“Hear that?” Glen will ask me.

“No,” I’ll say, “just the birds.”

Exactly.

12 comments on “Wising Up”

  1. Wow, I really love this. Beautiful picture of a life that's good. You two are awesome.

    Also for what it's worth- one of the things I've always loved about you is your appreciation for life's day to day pleasures. Maybe you've been pretty smart in that way for a good while!

    What you wrote makes me remember this other thing- a character in a novel I once read (and I don't remember anything else about the novel besides this quote) said something that really stuck with me. I remember she was sitting on a front porch basking in the sun and she said, "People think being rich means having a lot of money. But I think being rich is having all your senses filled."

    I also sometimes think that getting older brings the deepening of senses that we don't have names for. But that's another blog post I guess.

    1. Thank you, Claire! And I love the character's quotation about filling the senses. That's a perfect explanation for what we've been feeling lately. We're blessed and full, in so many ways. Glen told me earlier that he's been up a lot of mountains and down a lot of mountains, and he has done much soul-searching for what makes him happy. He's always been a dreamer, and for as long as I've known him, he's been very cognizant of where he wants to be in life. I think he's found it. All I can do is follow in his footsteps. And that's good enough for me. <3

    1. Yeah, cows are demanding, and also quite vocal about it. So are cats, but at least they don't trample you (much) to make their point!

      Thank you, Carie. I'm surprised each day by how much we're enjoying this phase of life. I hope the two of you will also experience these quiet joys and togetherness when the time comes. I'm betting you will.

      🙂 <3

  2. This doesn't sound boring to me. This sounds idyllic. Currently, Wesley is grilling a rack of lamb, we are sharing a bottle of Napa syrah, and we are watching our birdies. These are the things that make life worth living.

    1. <3 <3

      Oh, my goodness. Your father and I are so happy for y'all, and we love you both. It just gets better!

      <3 <3

  3. I'm glad you've got a forever home and are loving it! From the pictures, it's a lovely, peaceful place.

  4. What a lovely post Susan and it echoes our retirement, Gary and I. We too share much of our time together, usually shopping and then enjoying a coffee in one of our favourite haunts. Retirement is special and by no means boring. One of our favourite pastimes, weather permitting, is sitting in the sunshine enjoying a Mocha ice-cream or a glass of wine in the evening. Grand isn't it?

    1. Thank you, Maureen! It really is grand, isn't it? It's a shame we live so far apart. I know we would enjoy spending an evening together, enjoying the peace and the rich pleasures this stage of life offers. <3

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