Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
JULY 29, 2001

A few lessons learned from 49 years of marriage

I love it when my friends humor me by expressing surprise that my next birthday will be my 70th. The best line is this: "Why, Walter, you canít possibly be that old!" Remember that line and use it if you want to see my face light up.

I thought for awhile that people were honest and sincere. Then the Lord told me how it really is. He said, "Son, you have nice friends and they are all just trying to be nice to you. So donít spoil it by being an old grouch. Smile and let them think they are making an old man feel better. Just be glad they donít take the time to tell you what they really think."

Actually I do feel old sometimes. When I bend over to tie my shoes, I realize that it takes me longer and longer to raise back up. I know that because my wife will sometimes ask me, "What are you doing down there?" That embarrasses me so I just tell her that I am admiring the intricate pattern of the carpet.

I feel old when every morning when I try to step into my underwear. That is not as simple as it once was. On a good morning though, I can make it into my drawers in two or three tries, and I donít fall down more than once a month. It helps to stand beside the bed or a chair so I wonít have far to fall.

Taking my medicine has become quite a challenge also. I used to be amused that my parents had a row of 17 bottles of pills. Now I have 19 bottles. I have them lined up all in a row in my medicine cabinet, ready for my morning routine. Being left-handed, I always go from left to right, swallowing one after the other. But I am a little clumsy, and when I knock one or two bottles off the shelf, I am not sure which one is next. Some days I just start over to make sure I donít miss any. I figure if one pill will help me, then two will help me even more.

It is frustrating, however, to sometimes wonder as I am brushing my teeth if I have already taken my medicine or not. I know I am in trouble if I cannot remember. To help myself, I have established a regimen that I try to follow daily. It goes like this:

When the alarm clock goes off, I slap it and thank the Lord that I am alive. Then I sit on the edge of the bed and think about standing up. Before standing I put on my watch and my glasses. Without my glasses I am as blind as a bat.

Next I stand up and stagger to the bathroom, a very familiar room which I like so much I visit it several times a night. My next step is to splash water in my face, not once, but three times. Three times helps me remember that I am the pastor of Trinity Church.

Why do I splash water in my face? I donít know really. I donít remember ever being taught to do that. I donít recall my dad doing that. But it is what I do, and I donít care if Caesar never did it, nor Solomon, I like it and I do it. It helps me wake up. It helps me see. It does help to remember to remove my glasses before I splash the water on my face. When I forget, I simply laugh at myself and thank God my wife is still sleeping and did not see me do it.

Swallowing my medicine is next, followed by brushing my teeth. Then I make the coffee and begin asking the Lord for my marching orders for the day. Breakfast is simple. If Dean is at home, she cooks bacon and eggs. If she is not home, then it is cereal time for old Walter. The closest I come to cooking is peeling a banana. I like a banana on my cereal, or blueberries when I have them. Sarah Martin and Joyce White have blessed me with some delicious blueberries this summer, and I love them.

I have never learned to cook, and thank God, I figure now I am too old to learn. If Dean is home, we eat well. She is a wonderful cook. If she is away visiting the grandchildren, the stove stays cold. If Dean should slip away to the Fatherís House before I depart, some restaurant will prosper with my business.

My good dentist and my friend, Dr. Bob Hall, told me he could fix a little cosmetic problem with my teeth if I allowed him to cap four of my teeth. I made a quick decision. "Bob," I told him, "if you fixed my teeth up real pretty, I would no longer look like an Albritton male. And besides, I donít want to take a chance on the Lord not recognizing me when I get to heaven. I have looked like this for nigh onto 70 years, and I think I will leave well enough alone." He laughed and agreed.

No matter how we look to our friends, we are all growing older every day. We cannot go back and be young again. But we can enjoy each day, receive it as a gift, and make the most of whatever time we have left. Until the day He calls me home, I want to go on singing, and I hope, even if my bones are creaking and my eyesight is dimming, that I can leave here singing.