March 2012


Stephen Schwartz has been around a long time; long enough to have written music for Godspell, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Enchanted and a dozen other successful stage and movie musicals. So when he decided to stage Gregory Maguire’s reinvisioning of The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the two witches, the cognoscenti were agog with anticipation. They were not disappointed; Wicked has broken box office records all around the world. Eight years after its opening in New York the musical has finally arrived in Singapore, and last night we went to see it.

As far as our attendance at musicals go, it has been a long dry spell for both of us. We did see Chicago a couple of years back when it hit the cinemas, but the last live show we saw was Phantom of the Opera in Toronto as a present for our daughter’s thirteen birthday.

Phantom was great show, but plot-wise there really wasn’t much to the story. The Wizard of Oz, on the other hand, was already a great story. But once you start to add layers of plot nuance and character twist, as Schwartz does, it becomes a narrative feast. Add to that some delightfully whimsical costumes, a darkly rich set, some imaginative choreography and the music of arguably the best lyricist on the planet, and you have a spectacular show. We loved every lyrical minute.

We also loved the setting along the south side of Marina Bay. There is a fabulous new hotel there, The Sands, with its boat like upper deck, and lovely new mall on the ground levels with walkways and vistas of this increasingly beautiful city. We sat and soaked in the casual ambience for a while before we went for dinner at Sky 57.

Dinner was a hoot. We decided we would go for a sampling of the chef’s special courses and we agreed that we would split a portion as neither of us was particularly hungry. It is good thing we weren’t, for none of the courses would have satisfied the hunger of a three year old child. The potatoes that came with the lamb were particularly notable. They were cut so small that it would have taken a dozen or more to fill a teaspoon. Which would have been fine except the portion was less than that, perhaps five or six of these little things. Admittedly they were tasty. Briefly. The same could be said for the soup. It was delicious for the three spoonfuls they presented us in an enormously oversized bowl. And on it went. If it weren’t for the endless supply of rolls we would have both left hungry.

But I am being unkind. The service was lovely and the view of the city unmatched­­. The company was delightful and the occasion – Pam’s birthday – was special to both of us. We drank it all in, laughed as decorously as civility allowed at all the silly miniscule servings, and generally had a very happy time together. Oh yes. There was the matter of the gift. Perhaps Pam will have the opportunity to wear it sometime soon and you may see it for yourself!

First and foremost, I feel like an imposter because when I think about my age, I have to say that with the exception of a few aches and pains, I don’t feel much different than I did thirty years ago. The number of my birthday never much bothered me but I did get a real shock when our son turned thirty!  Me the mother of a 30 year old? Only then did I start to think about growing old.

What I have come to appreciate most about growing older, both in years and in my relationship with the Lord is that the more often I share the details of my life, the more I see His hand through it all. As I look back over the years, I am constantly reminded of the love of God, who orchestrated the events of my life, protected me and shaped me into the woman I am today.  I am so happy that God had a purpose for me and that He felt it worthwhile to carefully guide me through it.  I am saved by God’s amazing grace and wonderfully blessed to bear His name.

As much as I looked forward to being a Grandma, I was totally unprepared for the joy I felt the first time I held the child of my own child.  The love I feel for Ben, Abi and Eli is so different from parental love in that my only responsibility really is to love these children.  It is a love that is pure, with no strings attached and is not about what I should do for them or they for me. When my own Dad passed away, each of his grandchildren said the same thing: “No matter what, I knew Grandpa loved me and would always be there for me”.  Right now we are a half a world away from our grandkids and I miss them terribly and trust that this will not always be the case, but even on Skype they thrill my heart.

Over the last few years I have realized that I need to be more kind to myself, less critical and more accepting of the person that I am. I am trying to learn not to chide myself for the fact that I really am not able to sit through an entire movie, I know nothing about fashion and jewelry, I love to listen to music but can’t tell you who originally sang the song or who covered it, really don’t enjoy a massage or a mani-pedi and that is okay. I am entitled to a read all night, to listen to my favourite music, and dance when I want to.

If the Lord has taught me one thing above all else it is the importance of perseverance. Perseverance is defined as, “the steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.” People do not by nature persevere. Instead, as soon as something stops being easy, or fun or productive we have a tendency to want to move on. It takes perseverance to make a marriage work, keep it alive and growing deeper. I have learned that our marriage is a relationship of two sinners struggling with God and each other through events and experiences, striving to glorify God through the history that we are making together as we dedicate our times to Him.

We have a history together through marriage, labor and delivery, financial pressures, problems, failures, struggles, and joys. The events of our life together, good and bad, are a testimony to God’s working in our marriage.  God was there in the darkest moments of our marriage and in the happiest times and I love the history that we have built in our lives and in the lives of our children. To have a good marriage takes time; working through problems, enjoying special occasions, coming together in times of sorrow. You must decide to see God in the routine of your marriage. You must determine to persevere.

I can’t escape aging, and clearly I have fewer years ahead of me than behind. However, I want to be able to care for myself and hopefully still care for others for many years yet to come. My thoughts and my attitudes are mine to control and I think that the secret to aging well is to keep thinking young, staying involved in relationships, learning new things, helping others and being continually thankful. Preparation for aging begins early and needs to be intentional; the way you live now – the risks you take, the plans you make – is already determining how you will live out your retirement years.

Ten years from now I’d like to be a gentler, more caring and more knowledgeable person than I am today. I want to be more disciplined, to continue learning and exploring with an open and active mind as long as God allows. Yes, my physical body is failing and someday I am going to die; that is not easy to accept. But with this realization comes a greater freedom and a deeper connection to God. I want to live out whatever days I have left, seeking God, trusting and glorifying Him through humble service and continued prayer, and to encourage younger disciples so that one day I may hear my Father say to me, “Well done.”

Since my youth You have taught me, and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds.  Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare Your power to the next generation, Your might to all who are to come.

 Psalm 71:17-18

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