The old folks

By Mary Ann Hughes

My husband and I moved into our house when I was 26 years old.

When we arrived, we met the couple living two doors down from us. I considered them old, if not elderly.

When she died many years later, I did the math and realized that she was 58 years old when I met her. Ah, the ignorance of youth.

Her name was Mary, and his name was Jack. All the neighbors knew that they went to bed early every night and rose early every morning.

Now, Steve and I are the old folks on the block. Yes, we are the Jack and Mary of the neighborhood.

There are mornings when we wake up way before the alarm goes off. I will say, “Good morning, Jack,” and he will answer, “Good morning, Mary.”

Marriage is different when you are older.

Years ago, Catholic Charities sponsored the Golden Jubilee Celebration for couples married 50-plus years. They were invited to attend a Mass celebrated by the bishop and then go to a reception held in their honor.

It was one of my favorite things to cover as a writer for The Message. I always arrived early so I could talk to the couples. They loved the celebration so much, and they drove to Evansville from communities all around the Diocese of Evansville.

As the years went by, I realized that the one thing the couples seemed to share was the absolute delight that they were still together. It was wonderful to see how tender and sweet they were with one another.

They seemed to be living out the words from Ephesians 4: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

It couldn’t have been easy. They were children during the Great Depression, and they had survived World War II when many of their family members and friends hadn’t.

The couples always seemed to me to be the salt of the earth people, and I felt they were wonderful examples for all of us.

Looking back, I believe they were living out the words they may have shared when they were young: Grow old with me! The best is yet to be!