October 25, 2023
David and Karen Mains share their observations about aging, based on the reality that: “Knowing that there are both positive and negative aspects related to aging, we choose to view it as a special gift from the Lord for which to be thankful, because it is not granted everyone.”
Karen: Well, I think one of the good things about aging is you have perspective over the long haul of these years. You don’t get as distressed about things that used to annoy and aggravate you as when you were younger. I mean the perspective says “This too will pass or God will bring something good out of this. Just wait and see. He always has. Just trust that he will bring something good out of this.”
David: When our kids were growing up, Karen, if we were on a trip in the car, every so often we would play what we call the “what’s good about what’s bad about” game.
Karen: So, he had four children, three sons and one daughter, and you’re right, on those long trips we would play this game. But we discovered that there was something very productive about what’s good about what’s bad about game.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast, featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David at Karen Mains.
David: People will have no idea what that game is because we made it up and it was kind of just our own family thing.
Karen: Filling time.
David: Talking about it.
Karen: Keeping kids from fighting. We’re going to play the what’s good about what’s bad about game. I think we would always start with you.
David: We would all get their say.
Karen: Yeah, I’d say.
David: And I found that those compliments were wonderful, but I knew what was coming.
Karen: What’s bad about. Now let me just make a little disclaimer here. What’s bad about wasn’t as bad as it sounds like because everyone knew they were going to get their turn at the what’s good about what’s bad about game. So, they were a little more cautious in their criticisms, I believe. It was a leveling sort of thing.
David: The older ones were anyway. The younger ones, they didn’t think about what was coming. They just let you have it both barrels.
Karen: So, what was productive about this? What did we discover was productive about this? The clearing of the air. Kind of getting rid of things that needed to be said and little discontents.
David: I think the kids were quite good at it.
Karen: They were actually going to get the check and balance was because they knew they would have their turn. But the productive thing about it was to hear the whole family saying this is what I like about you. This is what’s good about you. And that really shone in rows above the negative. It was extraordinary actually.
David: The reason I’m bringing this up as an illustration is we’re going to have a session about aging. What’s good about it?
Karen: Oh, we’re going to play the game.
David: And we’re not really aging. We’re old. I found this in most definitions when you get up close to 90. You’re talking about not saying I’m getting older. You’re talking about I am old. And you are actually in your 80s.
Karen: I’m 80. I always add the year. So, I’m really still 80. I don’t turn 81 till January. But in my mind, I’m thinking I’m 81.
David: Are you thinking you’re old?
Karen: Yeah. I’m very definitely seeing cause and effect of the aging process. Memory is soft.
David: Well, you’re getting into what’s good about it and what’s bad about. That’s a bad about. Memory is soft. What do you mean?
Karen: Well, I don’t remember things as clearly as I used to. It’s kind of funny. It’s there. I often say it’s not my memory that’s bad. It’s the retrieval system that’s slow. And eventually the memory will come or the thing I need to remember. But it is definitely much lower than it used to be when I was younger.
David: Well, I’m going to talk about a good thing.
David: Most people would probably say you’re going to start out from something in Scripture. But I find that I really like social security checks. I remember when I was working full time in the regular check. And I thought I made more money than this. But then I would see that big hunk of social security money that was taken up. But now I’m in a place where this is pretty neat. Those checks just keep coming in. So, I’m grateful to the government. That’s a good thing.
Karen: And then forced savings and we have donor income, but our donor base is smaller than it’s ever been. So, those social security checks are really a gift of God to us in our old age.
David: I’m not sure the government would say that. But I certainly feel that way and I’m grateful for them. Go ahead. You’re going to say good or bad.
Karen: Well, I think one of the good things about aging is you have perspective over the long haul of these years. You don’t get as distressed about things that used to annoy and aggravate you as when you were younger. I mean the perspective says “This too will pass or God will bring something good out of this. Just wait and see. He always has. Just trust that he will bring something good out of this.” There’s a lesson here you need to learn, or you haven’t seen the whole story. So, perspective would be one of the positive things about aging.
David: I would say one of the bad things about aging. When you get to my age 87 again, every year you need to renew your driver’s license. And I can’t be that bad a driver, but it is a pain in the neck. I hate going to take those tests and then going out in the car and just being very careful. Yeah, do you know what that yellow line is that you just crossed? What yellow line?
Karen: I don’t see that you’re not that bad. But you can see the rationale behind that, you know, because there’ll be a time… Oh, do you remember the story about your grandfather when he was old? He went to park, but he ran into the store window and broke the store window. You don’t remember that?
David: I do remember that. That was Grandpa Ben. Bless his heart.
Karen: He must have been about your age.
David: It wasn’t a parallel party. It was coming in and it didn’t stop and went right into the store window.
Karen: Didn’t brake in time.
David: Yeah, I forgot about that. Dear Grandpa Ben.
Karen: So, there are reasons for that. Early test of senior citizens is a good thing really.
David: One of the bad things I would say about aging that I never thought about before is that there’s so many people I know and love who died. You know it seems like it’s almost endless. And one by one, whether they’re national figures, we had the privilege of knowing these people or whether they’re part of the family. You know it’s been at this point in time we’re right in the time of the year when Jeremy died. I was 42 years old died from cancer and it’s been 10 years now Karen.
Karen: Yeah, well and then their people are aged they either have died or moved away to be closer to their children or grandchildren and we just lost touch with so many people partly because of the three years of COVID. You just think “Where are they?”
One couple we tried to call were our age. Their answer phone was loaded up. You couldn’t get them an answer to the phone so, they must have been traveling or something away for the winter or whatever.
David: One of the things I like at this point in my time of existence is heaven has become much more real to me. I didn’t think about heaven nearly that much before but now I do. And I think about how gracious God is that he shows his love toward us and then we have this phenomenal future to look forward to. The other day we were talking, and you quoted the words of Peter Pan.
Karen: By James Berry and Peter Pan…
David: Probably fighting Captain Hook.
Karen: …before he takes a swing or something like that. I can’t remember exactly when it was. And he says, “To die will be such a great adventure.”
David: I love that. I wish you were someone in scripture as Moses had said that would be really neat. But I think of, and I think that’s wonderful.
Karen: Well, and I think with aging, you are anticipating heaven actually. Particularly with the world in this present-day turmoil. It seems like we’re in increasing turmoil from here to there to everywhere. And you think of heaven as a place where you’ll not only see friends and family people you love and miss but will sit in the presence of the Lord. It gives me choked up even saying that. And the Trinity, the triune God, will be ruling there; will be perfect world. So, we’re looking forward to that.
David: I’m going back to my list. I wrote them down, so I won’t forget any of them. One of the good things about aging: children, and grandchildren. We don’t have any great grandchildren yet.
Karen: Nothing babies. No great grand babies.
David: I don’t want to put any pressure on our grandchildren.
Karen: Anyone. But…
David: No, I don’t even want to say but. I just want to say this is a wonderful aspect of aging. You see them grow and grow in the Lord as well you’re just so grateful. I have one granddaughter. She is now in her second year of high school. And sometimes her mom is not able to fit in.
Karen: They live here in town with us.
David: You see, Jerry has left Angela as a widow. And so, she needs somebody extra to come and pick her up, and that’s one of the best parts of my day when she will call and say, “Papa, are you able to get me today?” You know, it’s probably 10 minutes from her high school to her home, but those are wonderful chat times and children and grandchildren. What a blessing.
Karen: I think one of the positive things about aging is there’s an emotional evenness, at least in our lives. You don’t have the highs and the lows and the distresses. Just very even keeled and living with one another. We know one another really, really well. We’re not distressed by one another. We’ve grown together. Most of the times when we come up with our quirks, they’re just funny to us and we spend time laughing about it. You know, that’s lovely, isn’t it? Just absolutely lovely things that might have annoyed you earlier are just kind of funny. They’re human. They’re human for all.
David: Let me start a list and then you may want to add to it, but one of the bad things about aging, your body goes bazooka.
Karen: He has a mind of its own, right?
David: Yeah, I would say with me it started with hearing. And eventually it was me succumbing to getting hearing aids and I still don’t necessarily like them. It’s still a decision in the first part of the day. Should I put them in, or shouldn’t I? You know, I had a haircut this last week and I’d forgotten to take them out and I thought, “Oh man,” all of a sudden I realized that she cuts one of those things. That’s a bad deal. So, I took them out right away. But hearing, eyesight is now a problem.
Karen: Yeah, my eyesight has changed. It used to be farsighted so I could see far distance, but now I’m having trouble with that. I’ve got one. Balance. I’m having real problems with balance. I mean, I’m very unsteady on my feet. I could not walk a straight line without holding onto something. So, I’m beginning balance therapy sessions and very aware of it. The solidity of the floor or the earth doesn’t feel as solid anymore. And I actually did have a couple falls, ended up at the hospital and they got me on this balance therapy process.
David: Yeah, and you forgot to make your first appointment.
Karen: Get phone messages.
David: I find that, yeah. I don’t remember nearly as well as I used to. I find that in my life also there’s a loss of strength and endurance. We used to ship a lot of books. People would write for them and ask; I would send them out of the house because the books were all stored in the basement. But now I’m to the place where I say, “I can’t do that anymore.” You get a 20-pound box of books, and I can’t get up the stairs.
Karen: Yeah, it wasn’t just one book. It would be 25…
David: …church orders.
Karen: Yeah, and so you’d pack them. And I started carrying them up the stairs for you probably last year.
David: It was embarrassing to me. I thought, Karen can carry them up. I can’t even carry these things up the stairs. I need a banister on both sides of the stairs. It seems like they’re not there.
Karen: So, our son has solved that problem by having everything shipped out to him that was in the house. We have a storage locker here with all those products and he’s coming out after Christmas, I think, to take care of all the things in the storage locker.
So, that is definitely because of our aging process. I have a good one, a long history, a lifetime actually of applying scripture, interacting with the truine God. I mean, just think of a lifetime. Really most of my life, even as a child, a journey into scripture and applying it and learning. I memorized seven books of the Bible word perfectly for Youth for Christ. Quizzing and that just keeps coming back to me. So really, really wonderful.
David: I find that it’s hard for me to adjust to a constantly changing world. That’s a tough one. I remember my dad. Dad lived until he was 91. I got him a cell phone for his birthday one year. “That’s so nice of you, David.” I said, “Dad, you still drive a little bit and if you would get stuck somewhere, you would be able to contact someone.” “That was so thoughtful of you, David.” When I went through Dad’s things after he died, he never opened the box. I thought, isn’t that sad? No, I’m at the very same position. The world is changing, and I can’t adjust to it fast enough. I still think of the world like it was when I was in my prime and everything’s changed. Incredibly fast-paced. It’s difficult.
Karen: What, in the technologies, we notice that the younger generations are totally comfortable with all of this stuff. I took your cell phone, not my cell phone, to get to the therapy place yesterday. Lost my way. Didn’t get there on time. Part of it was because I couldn’t figure out your cell phone. It wasn’t all that much different than the one I have, but it was different enough. So that’s where we are at this stage in our life.
David: I don’t know why the Lord has allowed us to live as long as… In a good way, I like to think He enjoys us.
Karen: We make Him laugh too, huh?
David: They put in enough time. I’m going to let Him live for a little while and just enjoy it. I don’t know why. Fortunately, I don’t have to think about it that much. But in terms of the good thing, for me, there have been just hours of unhurried time alone with the Lord. Sometimes those are when the house is dark at night and I go down to the living room, sit on the couch. And the fact that it’s dark, I don’t have to accept in my imagination sense the presence of the Lord there. But those are wonderful times for me. I enjoy them. I look forward to them. It is not a duty to me. The scriptures have become very wonderful. And I think that’s a part of the aging process. It doesn’t mean everybody should do that, but for me, it’s been a wonderful gift from the Lord.
Karen: It sounds to me like we have more what’s good about aging than what’s bad about aging on our list. How do you feel about that?
David: I haven’t said all of the what’s bad about aging things. But I would like to try to put into a sentence what it is we’re saying. It’s kind of a long sentence. Knowing that there are both positive and negative aspects related to aging, we choose to view it as a special gift from the Lord for which to be thankful because it’s not granted to everyone.
I don’t know why people die. It seems like if you would be born and then die at the same rate, you know, now it’s my turn, but the world is not that way. I just am very grateful. A gift from the Lord.
Karen: I think this has been a really good journey for us. A retrospective journey into what’s good about aging, what’s bad about aging. So, as we often do, we suggest to our listeners that they sit down and make some lists themselves. Do it as a part of a prayer journal exercise. What’s good about this age that I’m in right now? And we have more elderly listeners, I believe, than we do midlife listeners. So, it’s a really good perspective for anyone at any age to do, but particularly for those of us who are in the later years of our lives.
David: Yeah, and we don’t know, just like you won’t know, is he doing it? Because I’m such a sterling Christian that he’s letting me live longer than most. I don’t know that. Or maybe he’s just saying, David, you’re just such a darn slow learner. And if I don’t give you extra time, you’re going to only reach a certain level and you could go further.
Karen: I’ll tell you what, when we get to heaven, you can ask him, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be important up there.
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go Podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
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