Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ALONE 5-31-17

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter

Today Helen and I start our 59th year of marriage, so it seems like an appropriate time to repost this from 5-31-2012. I have updated the numbers.

ALONE      5-31-17

“One of you will die first.”

That’s what Jeanette Ericson said the day she and Darrol went with Helen and me to ride the riverboat. It wasn’t much of a boat, and not much of a river, but we had a good lunch, and it was fun. Until Jeanette told the truth, when I said “If one of us dies first…”

Well, of course. Either Helen or I will die first. It is highly unlikely that we shall die together. We have done all else together, but this we cannot. Today we start our 59th year of marriage, but at some time after all these years together, one of us shall finally be left alone.

Within our circle of friends, the wives die first: Dianne Bass, Jean Cramer-Heuerman, Eileen Wilkey, Ruth E. White, Joyce Peacock, Ila Fisher, Darlene Barrett, Dee Lemkau, Rose Mary Shepherd, Eunice Snider, Phyllis Graham Parr, Linda Soper, Jan Rossow Brown, Betty Dees, Mardel Nestler, Jerri Travelstead, Pat Keller, Catherine Smith, Barbara Shipley, Betsy Linneman, Marian Ekin…

We, of course, have friend couples where the men have died first, but mostly it’s been the men who have been left alone.

This has been sobering. For many years, insofar as I thought about it at all, I assumed I would die first. That is the way it goes in general. But now I see so many of my men friends living alone, and I realize it could happen.

I have tried my best for 58 years to keep the vows–for better or worse, in sickness and in health, in [relative] rich or in poor. Now the time is closer for until death do us part.

Certain members of our family think that I will be remarried in 6 months if Helen should die first. Not so. I shall be hugely lonely for HER should I be left alone, but I shall not be lonely in general.

Those family members think I would HAVE to remarry because I need a caretaker. They think that I cannot take care of myself because in 58 years of marriage I never have. [As Helen famously said, “Men enter assisted living the day they get married.”] I do have someone who takes care of me, but I don’t NEED someone to take care of me. I can LEARN to cook, to do the laundry, the taxes, etc. [I’m not asking for a show of hands on this.]

That’s not really the major issue, though, is it?

Paul Tournier says: “You are never too young or too old to give your life to Christ; after that, what else is there to do to get ready to die?”

I think that’s true about aloneness, too. You are never too young or too old to give your life to Christ. After that, what else is there to do to get ready to be alone? Because after that, you are never alone.


The “place of winter” mentioned in the title line is Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! We moved from there to Bloomington, IN, where we were married on this date so long ago.

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