One of the joys of having adult children is the possibility for new relationships to grow and blossom. I was reminded about this just this past weekend when my 29-year-old daughter Alexandra and I enjoyed a wonderful day together in London. The day passed quickly. Plus, we had so much to talk about over lunch! A month ago, Richard and I had a delightful time also with Alexandra’s younger brother, 27-year-old Lachlan. When he was little, I remember organizing special outings for him and his siblings and friends. Now he was organizing day trips for Richard and me – wonderful outings, including a trip to a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains and visits to the coastal towns of Morocco.
Not everyone is blessed with good relationships with their children or parents. Sometimes we go through rough patches. But the years after 50 can often provide us with an opportunity to revisit earlier relationships we may have had with parents or children, or even siblings. When we do, we often discover that it is possible to build new friendships with our loved ones, including healing for old wounds.
My friend Joyce Payne says that one of the real joys of retirement was the possibility to build a new and special relationship with her aging mother. Joyce had not been very close with her mother for many years. The death of a dear friend and a much loved pet led her, in her mid-50’s, to experience an epiphany. “Jesus,” she says, “kept opening doors for me and building the platform of a new life of service in the church.” Coinciding with this epiphany and her call to enter more deeply into lay ministry in the church, was a greatly improved relationship with her mother. At the end of their first heart-to-heart, Joyce’s mother proclaimed excitedly, “God has given me my daughter back!”
Joyce’s mother died last spring, but not before learning that her precious daughter had been voted in as President Elect of London Conference of the United Church of Canada. She could not have been prouder! And when Joyce is inducted as the 93rd President of London Conference, among those surrounding her in “that great cloud of witnesses to the life of faith” (Hebrews 12:1) I truly believe there will be one enormously satisfied and well-pleased mother.
Where are you being called to re-build relationships with family and friends in the second half of life?