My friend’s situation made me wonder what parts of my own life I wear blinders in, where things aren’t really the way I think they are. There are probably others, but I’ve narrowed down the main issues in my life where that is happening to my feelings of isolation and worrying about not having back up in an emergency---both common widow and old people woes. But when I’m forced to be honest with myself I have to acknowledge that I have nieces and nephews on both sides of the family, and one very close friend, who would help me in a worst case scenario. I’m the problem. The classic, “it’s me, not them” because I’m the one who is too proud to ask for help should I need it. I’m so used to handling everything that life can throw at me that it feels like weakness or signs of aging that I might not be able to get myself out of any given situation. When my husband was alive we were each other's back up until his stroke. Even after that I didn’t feel weak or old when people helped us in the months after that catastrophic event. In my mind they were helping him, the social butterfly the favorite uncle. False impressions are hard to let go. They were helping us both---the bookends, the matched set.
As for feelings of isolation, on the rare occasions when I call a relative and suggest an outing they seem happy that I asked. And I’ll bet most people can say the same thing about their family. One of my favorite sayings when people complain that no one in their family ever calls them is, “The phone lines run in both directions.” (And, boy, that saying is getting dated fast with cellphones taking over the world.) So why do I sometimes get overwhelmed with feelings of isolation? I don’t blame other people for those feelings. I blame myself for not picking up the phone. With family, part of the issue is we know what is going on in their busy lives and we don’t want to bother them. At least that is true for me. Nieces and nephews are the filling in The Sandwich---the ones with kids and parents, and in some case even grandchildren and grandparents, all vying for their time. I never had kids or grand-kids but I sure know what it’s like to have parents that need help. Been there, done that. The Sandwich Generation have a lot on their plates.
So instead of curing my isolation with those I care the most about, I try to fill my time up with acquaintances at the senior hall and Red Hat Society ---places where you could fall off the face of the earth and no one would notice except for your name printed in the ‘send prayers’ column of the newsletters. The very first person who made me feel welcome at the senior hall's Movie and Lunch Club, shortly after Don passed away, died this winter from complications from a minor surgery. Life is short. The reminders of that are everywhere where old people gather. And maybe that explains why we all have a good time together but we don’t really make much of an effort to take it to the next level and form closer friendships? Nope, most of the people I’ve met at the senior hall and Red Hats seem content to just be widows and/or seniors looking for group fun and my new favorite word, “enrichment.”
I’ve been having trouble finding an ending for this post and before I knew it I had a chocolate pudding in my hand…not the kind that comes in little plastic tubs. No, this pudding was homemade and filled a footed, antique goblet which makes it harder to overlook the calories you just consumed. Why? Because you can’t put the goblets in the dish washer, so as you’re washing them by hand you have time to think about how the pudding became a comfort food in the first place. I love chocolate pudding and the memories that goes with eating it out of the same, sentimental dish my mom used for pudding. Most of the time those goblets sit in the cupboard waiting to be needed and that grounds me to a happier, carefree time in my life. And despite wearing blinders from time to time, I know my family will also be there if I need a different kind of comfort or help. I should get that tattooed on my arm so I don’t forget. Maybe just a discreet little, “They Care” would do the trick. ©