I was quite disappointed when 2000 rolled around. They called it the new millennium. It wasn't, of course; the new millennium began on 1 January 2001. I didn't waste time arguing, however. Only the first day I went back to work - Wednesday 5 January, 2000 - I took the same old diesel 'bus; wore the same baggy clothing; worked in the same buildings of concrete and steel. For those not born in 1942, my disappointment may be surprising. They had not seen futuristic drawings of 2000, with people in skin-tight clothes, commuting by personal helicopter, working in sweeping-line skyscrapers.
Oh, OK, I wasn't really disappointed. But it is true that for one born in the first half of the twentieth century, there was a magic about the idea of "the year 2000."
2000 did bring a big change to us, however. Adele turned 18. At 18 she could go job hunting with the dole (what Americans call unemployment insurance) as a backstop.
Close friends of ours, to whose children our children had been close, had moved to Wellington years before. Adele asked them if she could stay with them whilst she hunted for a job. Great! they said. So she did. It did not, in fact, take her long to find work as a barista - hard job, on your feet all day, punishing to the wrist and elbow joints - but a job.
It was, in a way, a major event in my and Susan's lives. We had been married two years when Johnny was conceived. From that point to September, 2000, our world had revolved around our children. Now they were not with us any longer.
Not physically, at least. I think your parenting never ends. A few years later Adele was to return to live with us for a while. But in a deeper way, we have, I know, continued to be of great importance in our children's lives - and I do not merely mean emotionally. This will, I believe, continue all our lives - and, I am convinced, after our lives on earth have ended, when, please God! we will be in a position to intercede for them.
Nevertheless, things were very different now. And there was a danger we faced, a danger that every couple faces when the last child leaves home. I have seen it more than once. The couple's complete focus and concentration has been on their children. Now they are gone. What do they do as a couple?.
Sometimes they drift apart. I don't know that I ever consciously thought of this. Nevertheless, I did something that was as though I had thought about it.
I go on retreat each year. You are encouraged, on retreat, to make resolutions. These may be like "New Year's Resolutions." They may be fairly vague and general, and, if so, are likely to mean not very much in the way of action. We are encouraged to make concrete resolutions.
On retreat in 2001, I prayed about this whole business of my relation to Susan. I came home from retreat and told her that I wanted us to determine genuinely to seek to orient our lives to one another. In particular, whenever one of us had an activity to do that was away from home, the other, if possible, would accompany him or her. Susan, at that time, was involved in the Creative Memories scrapbooking activity, which took her into Auckland one evening a month. All right, I would meet her there after work, and go home with her. I, on the other hand, had my orchestra activities. Susan would attend all the concerts, some of the rehearsals.
And so forth. We have done this since then. I think it has been of great importance to us.
In 2002, however, we did something that was, on the surface, at least, not at all in harmony with this resolution. We took separate vacations, and to virtually opposite sides of the world.