Sir William Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) in his treatise on “Patience” offers this bit of advice:  “Life’s a pudding full of plums;  Care’s a canker that benumbs, therefore waste our elocution on impossible solution?  Let us take it as it comes!” Take it as it comes, bumps, bruises and all.

“One morning, months ago, I visited a good friend who had been ill for some time. He was a man that exuded energy and goodness and talking with him was such a treat for he had a knack of putting his friends at ease and engaged. Each time we visited, the conversation included a nice dose of teasing and catching up, and often it turned to matters of health. Shortly after that visit, at 89 years of age, he played 9 holes of golf with his wife and enjoyed the day, without having to pay with aching joints or fatigue. He told me then that he would play in our summer golf league, and he did, for the first few weeks! But time and the doctor’s prediction finally caught up with him a month or so ago and he was called home.  The memory of his friendship, his teasing, his energy, his love of life and people, and his faith in God remain with me–A role model of one who took “life as it comes”, with strength and dignity.”

Another octogenarian friend, care giver to his wife who had Alzheimer’s, told me that if God had come to him as a young man and offered a contract which would guarantee them 80 years of good health, followed by some difficult times, he would sign it in an instant! His personality is such that people are drawn to him.  He has character and a very positive attitude! He seems unphased by difficult times he now encounters. For his part, he rides his recumbent bike at least 100 miles each week just for the fun of it, is very active in our community, and manages an occasional message in our chapel. Here again is another role model of one who takes “life as it comes”.

Another colleague and friend who passed that 80 mark nearly a decade ago, spends much of his time as taking care of his wife.  He is a very active man who has arranged his schedule so that he can participate in the summer golf league, his service club, his church, and volunteer work in our small community.  He still maintains that priceless approachability that marked him as a master teacher. If you asked him for his “secret” he would say, “why I just deal with what comes my way and get on with living”.

These friends of mine, with positive attitudes toward aging and failing health, are among my heroes. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves but spend their time caring for others. These heroes of mine, these models of long living, they are taking life as comes. Would that we all have that grace and character.

I call to mind, again, that “contract with God”.  Would you sign it?  I would, and, I think, so would you.  But now, as we approach or are beyond those 80 years of good health what then?  My wife and I have had many wonderful years, just packed with memories. Yes, there were some difficult times along the way, but we carried on, taking life as it came to our door.

One thing that both my wife and I share with all those friends of ours, is the trust and love of God.  We don’t fear the future for we know who is in charge. Whatever life throws at us, that, too, is part of the gift and we have no choice but to take it as it comes.  And that is my wish for you in the coming year.

For What It’s worth.