Sometimes I sit alone and think about life, about what was, what is and sometimes what may one day be. I am getting ready for a couple of changes in my life so I am thinking about that. My daughter and her family will be moving closer in January so I will maybe have more involvement with them, my younger son is still gong through a separation that will maybe lead to divorce and that will bring a change, my daughter in law (soon to be ex-DIL) is talking about moving so that will mean I may or may not see less of her which means less of three of my grandchildren as I have access through her when they come for a visit. There are always changes, people die, new people come into my life, people that I have not seen for a while return to the Central Coast as they hit retirement or come back briefly to settle their old folk in retirement villages or nursing homes, or sadly I see them at funerals as we all celebrate the end of the last generation before ours,
Today I went to a church rally. It is good to go somewhere where there are warm smiles, some lovely community singing and to be able to share in a ripple of laughter when the guest speaker is funny. It is great to be where there is an opportunity to catch up with old acquaintances and feel a part of a large group of people. Particularly as a widow I feel that need to be a part of a crowd sometimes, a friendly crowd, a crowd where I can wave to people as I recognise some of the faces. It is like being in a warm ocean and feeling as if there is an opportunity to just float for a while, with nothing you have to do, just float.
As a widow I am more solitary than I used to be. I went from my parents' home to a home my husband and I purchased and paid off together. There was me and my family, then Ray and I, then Ray and I raised a family of three kids. Of course there was always others around us too, family friends, then the kids friends and finally just the old friends we accumulated over 44 years of marriage and now there is just me. Okay I go out and about, in groups of people, to the shops, to morning tea, to lunch, always busy, busy, busy but it is nothing like my former life. I know it is busyness for busyness sake but I need to do that to keep from being lonely,,,and I don't want to feel lonely more than I have to.
In Australia we don't have Thanksgiving Day, I guess those first convicts shipped over from the rotting hunks in the Thames River in Merry Old England didn't feel they had a lot to be grateful for. But I live in modern day Australia and I do have a lot to be thankful for. Firstly I should be thankful for my upbringing, I did have two loving parents who stayed together while they were raising us. We didn't have a lot but we had food on the table, a bed, a roof over our heads and back in those days we had freedom, a lot more freedom than kids these days. After school and at the weekends we could finish our chores and go and play, in the streets, in the parks and on any piece of vacant land and in those days the big subdivisions were all around as our first million migrant families came, mostly from Europe. to settle in Australia.
I came from a cold climate to a warm one, to a summer so hot you could cook an egg on the top of a paint tin in the main street in February, where the mountains were on fire in summer and covered with frost and maybe even a dusting of snow in winter. We lived west of Sydney then. And then coming up to close to where I still live, the lovely Central Coast and finding a little bit of Paradise. I still have some of the friends I made in those days, I don't leave friends behind if I can help it, I drag them with me through my life. Okay I may not see them for a while but if it is meant to be they move back to the Coast or back into my friendship circle and we travel on together again. Again widowhood broke that circle for a while, there are friends I thought of as friends of mine that were obviously friends of Ray's really but I have a good handful of them still around so that is good.
Three years out from Ray's death and I am just beginning to start my life as Sue alone. I have people around me now who never knew Ray, who never knew it was always Ray'n'Sue. I have people who still remember Ray and say his name and tell funny stories about him. I still have friends who knew me when I was young, when I didn't have wrinkles or grey hair, a few who remember my parents even have some funny stories to share about them. I am so lucky. I need to always remember that. I don't really know how much I do have until someone reminds me that not everyone has this ability to treasure and retain friendships like I do.Bless them all.
And I have my faith. Not everyone has that. A lot of my friends have values, good values that they live their life by, they have hobbies, things that they are enthusiastic even passionate about but they do not have faith. I don't judge them, feel sorry for them or feel superior to them, I just realise that they don't have what I have. I particularly know that when they ask me to pray for them. But I love them, these old friends of mine, those who remember me as a silly young thing, much too busy in middle age and philosophical in old age. What a lot of shared history we have, those old friends and me. And so it is okay that we are not alike, not clones, have differing values and aspirations, we are friends and that is enough.
And lastly I have memories. I know that I will not always have them (a lot of dementia in my family) and so am thankful that I have them now when I need them to tide me over the times when I am alone. I am grateful for all the good things that have happened in my life and glad that somehow I got through all the bad things that happened and am still here, reasonably content with my lot in life. I look around at others and think "there but for the grace of God go I" and for this reason I am a "do-gooder", a helping hand in my community, a volunteer through Lions, through the church and in other capacities. I want to help, I want to lend a hand, i want to do a little to make someone else's day better. A smile from an old lady in a nursing home is a diamond to me. At my age it is not all about money it is much more about being part of a worthwhile community.
And so today I am thankful. For what was, for what is and for what is yet to be.