It seems that the longer I live the more I realize how insensitive I have been about a lot of things. I’m bad to talk about things that I know little about such as being old. Folks, ask me how I am doing and I say, “Pretty good for an old man.” The general response from those 20 years my senior is, “You are not old.” I am not old relatively speaking but I am facing the reality of growing older. My hearing is not good, I have to wear glasses to read or watch TV. I have been to the doctor more times than I can count in the last two months. At present, I can’t drink coffee or cokes and I love both. I do think that my seniors [those 20 years older than myself] are probably right and I don’t know anything about being old yet and I guess my biggest problem at the moment is the fear of the adventure. Today, I decided to stop using that line, “I’m doing well for an old man.” I think it is cute but it is also a bit insensitive to those who are facing the difficult problems of aging. I’m upset that I can’t play basketball or run but today I visited with a 92-year-old that can no longer read and she gets out only on certain occasions like church once a week. This same sweet lady told me five years ago that she saw nothing GOLDEN about the golden years. The real bug this Christmas has been the lonely. I doubt if anyone wants to grow old alone. I have a sister that has been a widow since her late 30’s. I have two sisters that or widows and one sister-in-law. I made 17 Christmas Eve visits today [December 24, 2013] and seven were widows. Mother begged for my sympathy years ago and I didn’t have enough sense to give it. She said, “Son, I really miss your Daddy.” I was a bit cruel in my response. I said, “Mother, you and Daddy fussed and argued constantly. I heard you say more than once that you wish you would never see him again.” She would say, “I know son, I wish now I hadn’t said those things and I really do miss him and time doesn’t help. Everyone says that time heals but it doesn’t.” My mother got a bit childish in her old age but she never lost her wisdom. She was a sage for sure and she is right about grief: time does not help. Today, I heard a 90 year old say, “I miss my mother and father, I wish I could see them right now.” I sat there amazed at what I heard because this Christmas has been tough. I miss mother and daddy more than ever. This put me to thinking…if you miss your parents, how do you think these women feel who have lost their spouse? O God, please forgive my insensitivity. I am thinking of many relationship right now and of all of them, I could think of only a couple where the husband and wife adored each other. In 95% of the cases I am familiar with, the marriages where light years away from perfection. There was fussing and arguing and in some cases unfaithfulness but I have come to realize something: even when a marriage is not perfect, there is someone there to keep us from being alone. I think that is what Mother hated, being alone. I think loneliness is a tough animal to deal with. Today, on my visits, there was the proverbial empty chair. One couple always sat together on the couch, today, she sat alone on the couch. In one home, there are three chairs in the den: hers, his and one for the guest but today, one chair was empty. I kept glancing at the empty chair. If that empty chair bothered me, how much more does it grieve this sweet lady that stairs at it every day. I feel for the older widows but they are not the only ones suffering. There are some young women that are lonely and of course there are some men also but just not as many. I have a really good friend, a very good man who lost his wife about 8 years ago and he misses her everyday. He agrees with mother, time does not help. He told me just yesterday that he gets tired of being alone. So what am I going to do about it? First of all, I have to be more sensitive in my comments. Secondly, I need to be more sympathetic. I don’t have any problems worth mentioning and I want sympathy. I don’t need sympathy but I want it and so does everyone else. What I need to do is give more sympathy. Thirdly, I want to do something in the way of kindness to attack the loneliness that is making life difficult for so many. I think cards, letters, phone calls but especially visits are a way to help. But the thing that they need most is the thing that I have not done and that is pray for them by name. I going to be more aggressive in my intercession. I’m also going to be more thankful for what I have. Does your wife boss you around like you were a child? Does she tell you what to do when the task is obvious? Does she constantly remind you of the things you haven’t done or forgot to do? Does she smother you or mother you? Does she fuss about your snoring? Does she complain that you hunt too much, watch too much football on TV? Is she getting more vocal with the passing of time while you have a tendency to clam up or just ignore her? Does she get on your nerves by asking too many questions? Does she forget to put gas in the car? Does she constantly remind you that you are over weight and yet she keeps cooking and baking and gets upset if you don’t eat? Do you like to watch what she likes to watch on TV? Are you both Patton Manning fans or Alabama fans? Does she flatter you by bragging constantly on your handsome appearance? Welcome to the world on holy matrimony. One preacher got his tongue tangled up pronouncing the vows and instead of saying I now join you in holy wedlock he said, “I now join you in holy deadlock.” We can make a lot of jokes about marriage but that is because we have a spouse who keeps the loneliness from invading our house. There just may come a day when you would give anything in this world to have her back or him.