Getting old is much more than losing your hair or treating aches and pains

By Jeff Schumacher | Aug 22, 2012

Getting old is inevitible, but with it comes some highs and lows. Now I don’t mean the simplistic things like losing your hair, having aches and pains all over, or the other things that go with aging.

No, I’m talking about the tougher issues we have to deal with — the issue of losing a loved one.

I was telling some of my co-workers here that when you are young, most of the people who die are people you “know.” But, as you get older, those people become people you “love.” That’s a big difference.

Why am I discussing this? Well, like many of you have already experienced, Michelle and our family lost her mother, Dorothy, last week. She was a great wife, mom, grandma, mother-in-law, and everything else family-related. God just needed her more than we did.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t roll my eyes when I found out the “in-laws” were coming to visit. They live in North Dakota, so when they came, it was usually for a couple weeks. And, like a typical macho son-in-law, I would put up the “the mother-in-law” façade that you see so often. You know the one where the son-in-law says things like, “I think I’ll work late,” or “I think I’ll be playing golf a lot the next few weeks.”

But, as I was putting up that façade, deep down I loved it when she came. She made us all smile, and she spoiled our children terribly. She enjoyed the mountains, and if she was here for Christmas, you can bet she brought snow!

It wasn’t until the past few years that I really understood her. I just always had it in my head that I was her son-in-law. But to her that wasn’t the case. I was family. Not just family, but a vital part of “her” family.

It was never more evident than after my accident. When she first came to see me, I was pretty down and out. She instantly recognized I was a different person, and she poured out her love and her soul to me. That was when it really hit me that this person really did “love” me. Her love was deep and genuine. Not mother-in-law- love, just plain love.

All this time I had been playing the role of the son-in-law, while in her eyes, she was always the “mom” of the person who happened to marry her daughter. It was by far one of the most moving moments in my life.

As it hit me that she was gone from our lives, I started to think about the conversations, interactions and visits we had together, I couldn’t help but smile. They all made sense to me now. She always gave me my space, but was always — and I mean always — there when Michelle, my family or I needed her. I will never forget her because of this. But, more importantly, I’ll never forget her because of who she was — a caring and giving person.

Losing someone you love is never easy. Losing someone who loves you is almost impossible.

If you get one thing from this column, I hope it’s that life is a momentary thing, and before you know it, it’s done. So, don’t hesitate to express your love to those around you. It’s the way God intended it to be.

So, along with gaining weight, losing your hair and taking a bit longer to get to and fro, we all have to face the loss of a loved one at some time in our life. Only God knows when that will be, and all we can do is love all of them with all our heart and soul each and every day.

Dorothy taught this to me, I just never realized it.

I will miss you Dorothy, and I thank you for teaching me the true meaning of love and sacrifice. You are going to make a great angel, and I look forward to seeing you again.


Jeff Schumacher is the general manager at Mountaineer Publishing, Inc.