A day late, I am posting a #MondayMusings post.
Monday Musings, hosted by Write Tribe, is an invitation to post your thoughts - happy, sad, philosophical.
Yesterday, I read a blog post by a British blogger in her 70's. Her husband is seriously ill with cancer, and she is his caregiver. She doesn't get out much, as she has physical disabilities that restrict her mobility. She started to blog yesterday about gossip, but then the post got personal.
"And so, I don't belong in society, and all I have are virtual friends.
I've just finished reading Rogue Genesis by Ceri London about the power
of the mind, which even spans deep space. I like that idea... I guess loneliness is bound to
happen when you retire. If you haven't amassed friends when you were
younger, you're sunk if you can't get out and about."
Her post reminded me of a dream from my childhood.
In this dream, I was climbing up the stairs of an apartment building. This in itself would not have been unusual for me - I grew up in a 14 story apartment building in New York City. I used to climb stairs to my apartment all the time. Most people I knew also lived in apartment buildings, either in my city housing project, or elsewhere in the city.
But my dream didn't take place in my building, or theirs. No, it was in a strange building, and, as I climbed the stairs, I knew I lived there.
I climbed, and finally, the stairs terminated in an apartment. My apartment. There was no door - the staircase led right into the apartment.
It was shabby. It was one room. The bathroom was right in the middle of the room, exposed, no privacy. When I saw that apartment, I was seized with emotion. I don't know how old I was when I dreamed that dream, but I remember the feelings that dream stirred in me so well.
I felt....loneliness. Deep loneliness. I knew, in that moment, that I would end up in that apartment, one day, elderly, and without friends. No one would care about me. In the dream, I was healthy enough to climb stairs (I would have trouble today climbing that many stairs, as I have arthritis in one knee) but I was still lonely.
Now, I'm in my 60's. To my younger self, I would probably be ready for an old age home by now. Younger me, you would be so, so wrong.
I have always been introverted, and somewhat of a loner. Many of my interactions, if not work related, are virtual. But, I believe we need the face to face contact. I don't plan to retire just yet, but I do hope to in the next few years.
There are ways to form friendships when you are older. But, as Francene points out, it is hard. Several women I know are already widows. When, I wonder, will it be my turn?
I think of my mother in law, who is in her late 80's. She is a widow, her siblings are all dead and, as time passes, her friends are dying or in poor health. I think of my spouse's 103 year old aunt. Are any of her friends still alive? I wonder what it is like for her, sometimes. Is she only left with memories?
How do you fight loneliness when you grow older?