I met for lunch today with four women all of whom are widows. We talked of many things finishing up with coping alone as a widow versus remarrying. This came about because another widow of our acquaintance has just announced her engagement, she is in her 70s. All but me said they would never remarry though one did say she is lonely despite all of her activities. Activities seemed to be for all of us our main aim in life now. The theory is: keep busy and the days will just fly by. I do that, keep busy, fill my days, but the nights or rather late evenings are still a problem.
I am going out with a older man, just once a week which seems to have settled down to be Wednesday, out to lunch, maybe a drive somewhere, home by four o'clock. This is not quite the companionship I was hoping for but it fills a gap in my life. I do have a few gaps, for instance for a handyman, for someone who likes long distance driving and for someone who likes concerts as much as I do. These spots are unfilled apart from a couple of girlfriends who are still considering the concerts. I am fond of Jazz and a local Jazz Club has Sunday afternoon Jazz sessions for a couple of hours but I haven't got there yet. It is still on my list.
I have been to the movies alone a couple of times in the last two months, been a bit further afield by train, promised a friend I will come to her for a week soon. I have brought this forward as she recently reminded me she is 89 and time passes quickly at her age. This is a ten hour trip by train so not something to be embarked on lightly. Still for someone I have remained friends with for over thirty years I guess it is doable. There is a certain obligation in my mind as she was very good to me when I was raising my family and now if she wants me to visit I will endeavour to do so. I have a few people I promised to visit when I no longer had Ray to care for so I had better make a list and cross names off as I visit them.
We all had different ways of viewing being a widow, for a couple of us that included volunteering at church, in nursing homes , as a mentor. Two had taken on more babysitting of grandchildren, one cared of an elderly neighbour. In a couple of cases, the older widows had more imput from their children now. Two of our number were missing, one with a heavy cold and another with a broken shoulder after a fall. That is par for the course for the ones in their 80s, medical problems and falls. We are all involved in a church but not the same one. I think we all have that inbred sense of duty to those around us we think of as worse off than ourselves. We are not "do gooders" but we all have a social conscience.
We all have a fear of growing old and being incapacitated. This came into the discussion as a friend of one had just found the body of an elderly neighbour who she was worried about because she had not seen him for a few days. She let herself into his house this morning and found him deceased. That of course started off a string of events and the widow who told us is going to play for his funeral which may be in a couple of weeks. The delay is due to the coroner having to come to a verdict on cause of death which happens when there is not a doctor involved. We all shudder when we thing of that scenario - dying alone.
Being a widow does have some advantages, think of wandering around your house late at night, turning on the lights and music, or making a cup of tea and taking it back to bed. Think of having dinner at 4pm because you skipped lunch, that would have been unheard of when I had a diabetic husband to take care of and one who had to have meals on time and of a certain type to keep his blood sugar consistent. I did become a slave to the clock in those circumstances. Of course there may be a man out there who would be happy to be part of my chaotic life but I kind of doubt it. And I don't want to be tied down again to the routine driven life. I had those years and don't wish to return to that.
One of the widows misses a partner who could back a truck through a gate, something she has trouble with. She is our rural widow and certainly having stock to feed makes for a different lifestyle to us, her suburban friends. All the rest of us are thoroughly retired while she still has some cattle and the worry of having to move if she decides to retire. I can stay where I am, two of our ladies have moved into a retirement village and one lives with family in a Granny flat. Our lifestyle is influenced by age and so some of us have to reconsider what we will do in the next ten years. I know a lot of things are more awkward for me to do as I age so I need someone to help me moving plant pots, reaching cobwebs and I am looking for an odd job man to fix some of my minor jobs like leaking taps and a piece of gutter that needs rebracing. A lot of trivial matters do haunt me as something I am not confident in dealing with myself.
One thing about having made a lot of widowed friends now is that I can consult them and ask for a range of opinions that in the end helps me make decisions. It is like having a think tank close at hand, a few phone calls or a lunch meeting like today's does help me to get life back into some sort of perspective again.