I did think that this season of my life would be so different but it is samey, different week, same activities. But then that is the story of most of our lives isn't it? What can we do in a day to make that day different, to make it stand out from the rest? To make it memorable? I don't know. There is a sleepiness about winter that blankets our lives. Nothing much happens, nothing good, and with a little luck nothing too bad. Life drifts on from day to day, so I get up, do whatever is on the calendar to do, come home, make dinner, spend the evening watching TV, sometimes doing handicrafts,sometimes coming onto the computer or reading etc, and then go to bed.
I have just completed a letter to an old friend listing some of the things we did together. I did it because she is getting dementia and I wanted her to know I valued her friendship. We haven't seen each other for years and may not see each other again. In a big country like Australia that is the tyranny of distance. She moved away from where I met her and I came back here with my family, that is 33 years ago. It happens, nothing strange about that. In a vast country like Australia is is not unusual to look around and see that the friends you made are gone, up the coast, back to Sydney to be closer to family, sometimes interstate to go and live closer to the child who will take care of you in your advancing years. And so you remain in a changing neighbourhood.
At this time of the year a lot of my couple friends are drifting around Australia, taking a trip to Europe, chasing the sun somewhere in the northern hemisphere. i have done that too, this time last year I was in England, visiting with cousins, going to the wedding in Norfolk. It was fun while it lasted but the problem for the single woman is having no-one to share the memories with so they fade away. I look at the photos now and say: "Yes I remember that" but there is no-one else to say: "how about when we went to ... do you remember...?" and share the good times with. It is one of the many drawbacks of being a widow.
My children think I am okay living on my own, I guess I have that in common with close on a million others. I hear that story over and over among the elderly in my church and the ones I visit in the self care units and nursing homes. When asked about family they say: "I know my kids love me but I never see them." Widowed Mums and Dads fade into the landscape of their children's busy lives, somewhere up the coast lives an old parent who cared for them, went without to give them special treats,scrimped and scraped for money for excursions and school camps, went without new shoes to buy they basketball boots etc and now they have a reasonable income themselves do they repay? Not by the looks of some of their elderly parents they don't.
This is not a whine about the unfairness of life, we all knew life was unfair, it is a reflection on where I am now, that state of drifting through life with no purpose. It is a reflection of a discussion I had with my neighbour who used to look after his Dad until his Dad's condition warranted a shift to a local nursing home. He said that he felt as if his life once had purpose and now it seems as if it is empty. He is contemplating either changing professions, as the one he is in depends on a failing mining industry, or taking an early retirement so maybe that is a factor too. What you do with time when you have a lot of it but no plans for it. Knowing him he will find plenty to do as he is still full of energy.
As I get older for me the plans ahead are few and I do feel that unworthwhileness of life sometimes. Usually I just tell myself to get over it and find something else to do and there is always plenty of volunteering work to do. But sometimes even the busyness does not make life make more sense. I was chatting to a cousin who lives in Utah, my great great grandfather took his two youngest children to Utah in 1880 and so I have third or fourth cousins there. She often sends me a letter in winter describing the feeling of being shut in, how you put a load of wood on the fire and hunker down. Aussie winters are not like that, it is cold but above freezing, the winter sun shines in the sky and you can go out and about but activities that need summer warmth close down, the beaches are deserted, the families still go into their homes and keep warm together so there is still that bleakness about life that causes me to have the winter blues.
Winter is a Cinderella season, the time when rugged out like a penguin I go out feeling so unglamorous with my hair shoved under a hat and my figure obscured by heavy clothing. Okay, I admit it I am never a glamorous person, I am an average shape, an ordinary woman who looks her age. I still like to look good and a red nose from the cold and red stippled skin do not add to that like a bright summer look does. I look around me and other women my age look like that, our bodies will no longer put up with dashing from the warm car into the warmth of the venue lightly dressed and so we shed our outer garments when we have a coffee together and then haul them around with us in the shopping trolley until we go back out into the cold and the wind. It is not a good look is it?
I know I could do with a holiday in the sun myself. But it is back to the original thought, what is the use of making memories with no-one to share them? I think I have a case of the winter blues.