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Learning something from time with friends

Winter weather is cold and wet again, we need the rain for crops further up the valley and to refill the local water supply so not a lot of point in complaining, winter will pass in time and it will be Spring again.  I have been doing some of the needed outside work between rain periods so managed this afternoon to repot some of the bromeliads and weed some of the many pots around my back yard.  It is not what I want to do but provides a reason to get up each morning and gives me something to do to fill the day.  I like getting out in the watery sunshine, feeling the dampness in the air, hearing the sounds of nature beyond the sound of traffic. And there is that anticipation of blooms in Spring providing another reason to do some gardening.  I used to send the children out side to play and now I send myself out for the same reasons, to get some exercise and some fresh air. And gardening is good exercise and being outdoors improves the way I sleep.

The alternative is being indoors and going on with some of my craft work, I have just finished a long multi-colored scarf I knitted for one of the church men and am now commencing a rainbow scarf for another friend.  Working with my hands is good therapy too, knitting seems to calm me down.  When I had my mother here with dementia I started knitting squares with her.  She was inclined to cast on extra stitches so while she was in bed I would pull some of it undone and reknit a little of it. Sometimes she would frown and say:  "I thought I did more than that yesterday."  In the end between us we knitted enough squares to make rugs for all of her nine grandchildren.  It was a monumental task over three winters but I like the idea that those rugs are somehow a reminder to them of their grandmother. At the time it seemed an exercise in futility but looking back now it was something we could do as mother and daughter and I am glad we did it.

I have just been replying to a lot of personal emails accrued over a two week period, including some sent with greetings for my birthday. It always takes me a long tome to decide what to say to people to thank them for their kindness.  I added a picture of my youngest grand daughter Alice, Trev's daughter.  I haven't seen her since January but hope to go up to Broken Hill before winter is over. I have been busy with Church, Lions, all the usual things. I seem to fill my time up with a lot of small events. I had the day off today, I try to be free on Wednesdays and today I had cups of tea with three different people in my local shopping centre, my current form of social life.  I am lucky to have some good friends and some pleasant acquaintances, the benefit of over 50 years as a local and I see a lot of them in a monthly cycle when I am shopping. Most of them are widows or widowers over a wide age range but with some of the same loneliness issues I struggle with.  The men particularly do not want to remarry or even to date again and yet have a need for companionship that they barely scratch the surface of, let alone manage to satisfy.

I haven't been anywhere much since the week I spent in Hawaii in February apart from visits to my daughter and her family but my time seems to go by without too much effort.  I've seen more of my daughter Shirley and family than previously this year as I try to see them once a month. Usually I drive up there and stay for a couple of nights.  My daughter is busy of course with looking after her church and congregation ( she is a busy Salvation Army officer) as well as attending to her family.  I am glad to say the two grandchildren still seem to like to spend some time talking to me so that is a bonus.  I talk to my son in Adelaide occasionally by phone and see his children when they come up to spend time with their mother in the school holidays. Our children were around locally when Ray was alive and since he died have gone their separate ways.  I know as a family Ray and I did the same, thinking my Mum and Dad were okay alone because they had each other and as his Mum had his youngest sister living with her that she was fine.

I just turned 70 a week ago.  It seems a funny stage of life to me now without a partner, but I seem to have settled into a routine and that has to suffice. From time to time I want more out of my life but in a lot of cases it is wishful thinking.  I can't always control what is happening around me, friends come and go as older retired couples they often go north for a warmer winter or over seas for more adventures.  I admit to liking my own home more and more now, and not making a great effort to do more than local visiting while the days are short, dark and dreary.  Maybe after winter I will do more travelling, I would like to visit some of the people I have been corresponding with for years but it is the organizing of the journeys that wearies me. Herein Australia the vast distances and the lack of really well organised transport is an inhibitor as far as I am concerned. Trains are cheaper but take longer to get anywhere, plane travel is so much  more expensive, driving by myself over long distances is not an option.

One of the people I talked to today is a very wise old man, a former educator and a deeply religious man.  He said he finds the single life a problem sometimes since losing his wife but has many old friends he is becoming reacquainted with since he has been on his own.  He thanked me for my company this afternoon, for spending some time with him and said that is what keeps him going, finding companionship in the many friendships he has built up over the years.  He said it is one of the finest things in life, to have time to spend with friends. I am inclined to agree.  I have always thought that one person cannot satisfy all my needs, particularly my need for companionship. I found that with Ray during his working life, that he could not be all I needed him to be and that I was grateful for the contribution our friends made in my life.  Now I am reassessing my life with that in mind.  If I need to go on alone I know that friendship will become a really important part of life for me as it has for my old friend.

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Comment by only1sue on June 25, 2017 at 11:28pm

Athena, I love the idea of "God and Guinness"  a neighbouring town has a session once a month called "Spirituality in the Pub" at one of the hotels that a friend of mine goes to, maybe I will try that in summer when the days are longer.

Callie, thank you for the birthday wishes.

Comment by Callie2 on June 20, 2017 at 6:39pm
Belated happy birthday Sue!
Comment by Athena53 on June 18, 2017 at 12:12pm

This is so true.  One of the things that keeps me going is that I've got a decent number of opportunities to get out with other people.  Toastmasters once a week, church events ("God and Guinness" at a local bar, dinner at a restaurant once a month), the garden club, and a group of long-term employees of a previous employer that meets for drinks once a month and has other events.  I don't go to all of them but they're there if I feel like it.  And no, they sure don't take the place of my husband but good conversations help.

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