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Just dropping by... Silver threads among the gold

Yevet Tenney Published on 23 December 2008

This morning I climbed in my van and caught a glimpse of a silver thread of hair mingled with the normally brownish-gold ones. I wasn’t horrified or even sad. I deserve those sliver threads; after all I am at the tail-end of a half a century, and I have seen a few sunrises and sunsets in my young life.

As I think about it, I marvel at how blessed I have been. It isn’t everyone who can say, ‘I have had a glorious journey!’ Oh I know what you are going to say, “Pollyanna optimism doesn’t cut it in the real word! Life is hard, cruel and vicious at times, and no one can be happy all the time!”



My sister, Claudia, said that one day I would wake up from my fairytale world and see reality. Well, I did wake up, and I do see the real world.

I have to say I don’t like everything I see, but I still have the things that really matter. For everything that I have lost, I have found something more valuable. For every tear I’ve cried, I have a glass full of gratitude.

The other day, I stumbled upon an old song that has never made it to the charts or the top 10. I don’t even think it was sung on the radio, but it holds some wonderful sentiments for those who have traveled life with an eye of love. My parents have traveled that journey.

Silver threads among the gold

Darling, I am growing old,
Silver threads among the gold
Shine upon my brow today;
Life is fading fast away;
But, my darling, you will be, will be,
Always young and fair to me,
Yes, my darling, you will be,
Always young and fair to me.


Darling, I am growing old,
Silver threads among the gold,
Shine upon my brow today;
Life is fading fast away.

When your hair is silver white,
And your cheeks no longer bright,
With the roses of the May;
I will kiss your lips and say –
Oh! my darling, mine alone, alone,
You have never older grown,
Yes, my darling, mine alone,
You have never older grown.


Love can never more grow old,
Locks may lose their brown and gold,
Cheeks may fade and hollow grow,
But the hearts that love will know
Never, never, winter’s frost and chill:
Summer warmth is in them still –
Never winter’s frost and chill,
Summer warmth is in them still.


Love is always young and fair, –
What to us is silver hair,
Faded cheeks or steps grown slow,
To the heart that beats below?
Since I kissed you, mine alone, alone,
You have never older grown –
Since I kissed you, mine alone,
You have never older grown.


— Eben E. Rexford, 1848-1916

When I was just a little girl, I had parents who loved each other. Their commitment was the eternal kind. They both worked from sunup to sundown to provide for the family.

My mother worked in the fields driving a tractor with her little ones crowed around her knees. She’d plant, cultivate and harvest, along with her other duties of the day. House cleaning, cooking meals, washing dishes and laundry was always done with weary arms and heavy eyelids.

My dad worked in the logwoods, drove school bus, worked on the fire lookout tower and finally did shift work at a paper mill.

I never heard my Dad complain about how many hours he had to put in to feed the family. He didn’t call us to task when we’d wake him up during the day when he had to work graveyard shifts. I know he must have been frustrated at never getting enough sleep.

I remember him drifting off to sleep when he was helping me with my homework. At the time I thought it was a big joke that he could fall asleep mid-sentence. Now I understand. Too many hours with too little sleep! It brings tears to my eyes at my insensitivity.

As I grew older, I saw weariness take its toll on my parents. Though their hair turned gray, their eyes lost their twinkle and their walk slowed, they were always ready to sacrifice their comfort for someone else’s pleasure.

Their commitment to each other deepened and they became more unified in their love. There was a bloom of love when they first met, just a burst of spring blossoms, but the real love, the enduring kind, did not happen until winter. Love happened as each child was born, and they shouldered each new trial.

There was the time that I got burned and teetered between life and death. My dad, though exhausted, sat by my bed and told the story of Peter Rabbit until he could recite it in his sleep. My mother hovered by my bedside during the day providing for my needs as she performed tasks of caring for the rest of the family. I can’t imagine how she ever managed. I think I would have escaped into depression.

There was the time when the snow fell in horrific proportions. We had five to eight feet of snow and the cattle were stranded on the range. They had to be fed by snowmobile daily until the icy winter melted.

There was the time that 90 percent of the cows got locoweed and died on the range before they could be salvaged.

I remember the time that the hail wiped out Mother’s entire garden and yard, and lightning killed the horses. I remember seeing them walk hand in hand down the muddy dirt road as they went to inspect the damage. Their hearts were filled with inexpressible sorrow, but they were a united front against adversity.

I watched my father shoulder the death of his father with dignity and honor. He cared for his estate, and comforted his mother. The financial burden of the estate added years to his young life, but he walked onward still giving beyond all expectations.

Gradually they stepped into the shoes of the older generation. Both of their parents passed away, and now their hair is silver white. Mom can’t see very well and her hearing is gone. She uses a magnifying glass to quilt and asks, “What?” frequently, but she goes on undaunted.

Daddy suffered a heart attack in March, but he still drives to do church work, and cares for the poor. When they walk down the sidewalk, I am not sure who is leaning on whom.

Daddy, though feeble, opens the door for Mom, and they smile at each other with that loving smile. No romantic fling on television can rival that exquisite electricity that passes between them. I count my blessings every day that I have been given a pattern of fairytale love.

My parents were not cut-out paper doll characters; they were cut from the fabric of reality, but they still have a love that is the happily-ever-after kind. When they pass into eternity, I will treasure the fact that I saw first-hand what it was like to have true love.

Though I now have silver threads among the gold, I am grateful that I have found someone like my dad, who will love me when I have grown old. I count myself among women most blessed. PD