Joyce and Barry Vissell
“The Best is Yet to Be”
“Grow old along with me
The best is yet to be
When our time has come
We will be as one
God bless our love
God bless our love”
This is the first stanza of a beautiful song I have been singing to Joyce for many years. I just assumed it was written by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Come to find out, it was one of the last songs written by John Lennon for his beloved Yoko in 1980 shortly before he was killed.
There is an indicator of a deep and true love, no matter how old you are. It is imagining growing old with the one you love. If you can do that, it’s one way you know you have found true love.
Joyce and I can now say that we have grown old together. We’re both 77, and have been together since 1964. That’s going on 59 years. Naturally, we hope we have many more years together.
Joyce’s mother, Louise, used to say, after her husband, Hank, died, “The last twenty years of our marriage were the best.” They went through many challenges, sometimes coming close to ending their relationship. But, in those last twenty years together, they came to a peaceful sweetness and true closeness that became a treasure for them both.
Joyce and my relationship, too, has become more and more of a treasure. We’re both at peace with how much we need each other. Especially me. I fought against “needing” Joyce for many years, thinking it was a sign of weakness. I could admit to loving her, but not needing her. Now I find that my need for Joyce’s love is actually a sign of strength. It takes courage to admit human emotional need. Joyce has always had this courage. It simply took me longer to get there.
When we were younger, we argued more. We were less mature emotionally. We still very occasionally argue. It’s just human nature. But we have learned that neither of us ever want to hurt the other. This simple truth helps us to forgive each other’s occasional clumsiness or momentary lack of awareness. Even though our fights are rare these days, the temporary pain of separation is more unbearable than when we were younger. So we are more motivated to work things out and come back to our profound closeness. This closeness is so pronounced that the word “closeness” is not accurate. Oneness is a better word. Most of the time, when I’m with Joyce, there is no awareness of being with another person separate from me. It has become such a normal, but still sublime, feeling. Even with our kids or grandkids, who we adore, there is still the feeling of being with someone else. John Lennon writes, “When our time has come, we will be as one.”
And yes, we still thoroughly enjoy making love. Of course, it’s not the same as when we were young, but we both feel it is even better. It’s not as frequent, but we look forward to this intimate time. The goal has shifted from an ending climax, to the whole experience, just like a lovely walk in the woods is not defined by the destination, but by the enjoyment of the journey. We have written much on this subject in our books, To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man.
This may sound like a paradox, but there can be a newness to old love. A newness that comes from the enjoyment of moments. A newness that comes from more peaceful living. Joyce and I start each day with a short, maybe ten-minute, meditation in silence. Then we hold hands, touch our foreheads together, and take turns offering a prayer of thanksgiving as well as asking our divine source for help in the things we need. After this prayer, we look into each other’s eyes and feel the newness of our old love. If you really look into the eyes of a loved one, you can’t help but find new treasures there. Please, take the time to look into the eyes of those you love. You’ll see what I mean.
Most people are afraid of growing old, afraid of increasing dependence, infirmity, weakness or chronic illness. To be fully honest, I am too. I just returned from a solo backpacking trip in the High Sierras. I love to go off-trail, cross country, to remote places where I can revel in solitude. Because Joyce sometimes worries about something happening to me, I carry a tiny satellite communicator for emergencies. However, I acknowledge that these solo adventures are now numbered. There is no guarantee that even one more trip can happen. But when I get to the point when these outer adventures have to end, I look forward to the inner adventures, the continued discovery of the richness of life, and the newness of old love with Joyce.
It's true, the best is yet to be. John Lennon was right. It’s sad that he never got to grow old with his true love, Yoko Ono, but the true power was in his envisioning it. It’s what he wanted.
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are passionate about conscious relationship and personal-spiritual growth. They are the authors of 9 books and a new free audio album of sacred songs and chants. Call 831-684-2130 for further information on counseling sessions by phone, on-line, or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops.
Visit their web site at https://SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.
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