The years teach us

Comparing this photo to the one featured here, I think my folks have held up well.  April 2015

Comparing this photo to the one featured here, I think my folks have held up well. April 2015

“It is very strange that the years teach us patience – that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.” ― Elizabeth Taylor (the novelist)

One of the great blessings of having parents who live a long time is the ability to learn from them about how to handle what lies ahead.  As my siblings and I are all old enough to be AARP members,* we’ve moved through many of the stages we remember watching our parents negotiate, marveling at how young we feel now compared to how old we once thought adults in this phase of life must be.

The challenges of growing older are slightly different for each person, of course, and everyone differs as to which aspect of aging is most easily handled.  But there is little doubt in my mind that one of the most important qualities to have when we pass into the latter half of life is patience.  Fortunately, life itself ensures that we will have this quality, if we are blessed to reach our senior years.

I suppose those who can’t learn patience probably are more likely to succumb to accidents, disease, or strokes and heart attacks.  It’s as if patience is a sort of screening device.  We may as well learn it, because we will need it in ever-increasing measure.

Truthfully, my Daddy always seemed fairly patient to me.  My busy and accomplished Mama, not so much.  Yet Daddy has grown even more patient over the years, and Mama surprises me at how well she endures (often with a smile or a laugh) things that once would have driven her mad.  Looking at them now, I realize two things: one, a long life is a mixed blessing that requires great endurance, and two, I hope Jeff and I are able to find out what it’s like to enjoy that blessing for ourselves, mixed though it inevitably will be.

Those of us facing or enjoying retirement have been, often unconsciously, learning from our elders all of our lives.  Most of those lessons have been good ones.  I hope we all remember and honor the ones who have made this difficult journey a few years ahead of us, lighting our way with grace, a sense of humor, and the deep conviction that life is good.


*not that any of us actually are AARP members, but just saying…


  1. This rings true to me: “…marveling at how young we feel now compared to how old we once thought adults in this phase of life must be.” 🙂

    Life will give us opportunities to learn patience. You are right, we might as well learn with good humour.

    Julia, it is my prayer that indeed you and Jeff enjoy long life, which is a mixed blessing and that you both have the endurance it takes.

    • Thank you Timi, it is always a joy to hear from you. Life has been so demanding lately that I have missed “visiting” with my favorite bloggers, and seeing your photo I just had to take a few minutes to drop by your blog and read a bit. You are such a good writer! Thanks for your presence here and your good wishes.

  2. Nancy Blevins

    Indeed they have, Julia! Blessings Captain and Mrs. Hedden!

    • Thank you Nancy, you have been like a member of our family for more than half my life now! 😀 ❤ ❤ ❤ Love to you and your sons.

  3. bobmielke

    The one thing that is wonderful about getting older is that we will always look at it through young eyes. 🙂

    • Thank you Bob, I hope so!

  4. Ryan

    This past birthday I told Captain that he’s reached a “ripe old age”. He responded, “yeah, I’ve never been this old before”. 🙂

    • Ryan, that remark is so like Daddy. The other day he told me that he had lived longer than the life expectancy for someone with severe COPD, and I reminded him that he had lived past the life expectancy of ANYONE, with or without ANY sort of disability! We have much for which to give thanks. Thanks to you for being here today!

    • Oh my! I say similar things quite often. Like “this is the oldest I’ve ever been!”
      (Oh, wait, NOW is the oldest I’ve ever … ooooh, no, I mean NOW! Shoot I can’t quite seem to capture this ….)

      • Yes, by the time we realize it’s now, it’s not now anymore. At least, not THAT now…it’s THIS now. I guess it’s always now. Or as Ashleigh Brilliant has said, “Now is the time to do everything!” Who’s on first? 😀

  5. I’m thankful for the blessing of having your parents and you and your siblings bless my life in many ways!

    • Thank you, Don! You and your family have blessed us as well. I can’t think of you all without smiling.

  6. beautiful picture of your parents. May you and Jeff enjoy an equally long, blessed life. ❤

    • Thank you, Merry! I appreciate your presence here, and your kind thoughts.

  7. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. The rain yesterday as we arrived in London was just as you had forewarned me. ☔️ We checked into our hotel, then lunch, and were off to the Churchill War Rooms. We decided to stay busy and ward off jet lag. It was definitely a very early evening for all to turn in. 💤 I was so excited to see such a warming photo that connected me instantly. I think your Mama and Daddy look just as they did in the earlier photo from 2013. ☺️ Well, I must get with the program! Sure love ya,

    • Sheila, what a wonderful surprise to hear from you, coming all the way “across the pond” to see us here! You definitely did the right thing in staying busy. My first-ever day in London (way back in 1972) was lost to me when we decided to take a “quick nap” at the hotel and didn’t wake up until around 11:00 PM! Hope you are have a blast and adjusting to the new time. About the time you get really accustomed to it, it will be time to come home 😦 but not to worry, I’ve always thought it’s much easier going west into earlier hours. Cheerio! And thanks SO MUCH for letting me hear from you — I love it!

  8. Good morning, Julia!
    Wow, that’s good: ” It’s as if patience is a sort of screening device. We may as well learn it, because we will need it in ever-increasing measure.”
    Yes, your folks look terrific! What are they drinking? I think I want some of that!
    My mom gave up caffeine during my adulthood. She became much calmer and apologized to my sister and me for all those non-calm years.
    Blessings on your weekend!

    • Susan, they drink lots of coffee, and always have. Mama drinks a good bit more than Daddy, in my memory. About the only time Jeff and I ever got our coffee pot out all these 35 years were during the times they came to see us. I wonder if I gave up tea, would I become calmer? I’m going to say “no” and let myself off the hook on that one, hee-hee. Hope you are enjoying a wonderful weekend too!

  9. You are spot on with this one. Patience is the key.

    • Thanks, Marlene. I’m finding more and more that patience can be its own reward.

  10. Your posts are always so rich and thought-provoking, Julia. My Aunt Alys, who lived to be 95, once said that she always wanted to live a long life, but how hard it was as so many of her friends died before her. She had spunk and personality up to the very end. I’ve often thought it would be good to live a long life, as long as that life could be truly lived, not confined to a bed. xox

    • Alys, I hope you inherited your aunt’s longevity as well as her name. I do think spunk helps. My father’s mother lived to be 93, but she was confined to bed for the last year or so. She kept her personality and her intelligence up to the last, though. Glad you liked the post. Hope your weekend is fun and restful.

      • I think it would be really hard to be confined to a bed for two years, but perhaps when you reach a certain age and condition, it trumps the alternatives. Hard to say with so many things until you walk in those shoes. I hope to live the long, full life she did. She was a bathing suit model, then a war volunteer before marrying in her mid-twenties. She traveled the world many times and was quite the firecracker.

        We’re having a restful weekend here. Mike took Friday off for his birthday. We’ve been going to the movies, eating ice cream pie and today enjoying a lazy morning. How about you?

        • It sounds as if she lived quite an adventurous life, especially considering the generation in which she grew up. I bet her story would make a great novel.

          We stayed busy this weekend on details with the York addition. The plans are coming together and it’s exciting, but scary too. Also, we are going to have to part with our giant old oak tree, which is very difficult for me, but I’ve had several tree experts look at it and tell us that the addition will disturb the root structure so much that it would be risky to leave it in place (there is already a good bit of deadwood on it higher up, though the tree is still healthy). We did find an arborist who can make sure that the wood is milled and not wasted, which is somewhat of a comfort. You can see a photo of the tree as it looked nearly 10 years ago here and it’s even bigger now. You want to know how much it’s going to cost to have it removed! Tough to pay so much for something you really don’t want to do. But even trees have a life span, and since we have occasionally had hurricane-force winds here (including the year before we moved in, when Isobel left so many felled trees that we took about 2 years to clean up from our back lot) it is probably wise to remove it.

  11. Julia,

    • Thank you, Alan! 🙂

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