Monday, 10 September 2007
Retired and Single
Last week a reader named Joan left a comment saying she would like to read about
“…retired single women without spouse, children or grandchildren who are elder and retired from a career and on disability.”
The flip answer is that except for not being on disability, who do you think has been writing this blog for the past four years.
The real answer is that I have never thought about it much nor have I seen much, if anything, written about it, so I can speak only for myself.
I made a conscious choice, as my biological clock was ticking toward midnight about three decades ago, to not have children. I weighed the decision carefully, considering it for more than a year before letting go of the idea and moving on.
First, I had never felt much of an urge to be a mother. Second, I came to believe that whatever might happen to a marriage after a few years, it is probably best to give a child a shot at two live-in parents and I wasn’t married at the time - although that would not have stopped me if becoming a mother had felt like an imperative.
I have never regretted the decision and I don’t miss not having grandchildren. Or, perhaps it is that with no experience at raising children, I have nothing with which to compare a childless, grandchildless life. It feels normal to me.
That is not to say I don’t care about what life will be like for future generations. I care a great deal and in fact, almost all my political decisions and opinions are predicated on how I think they will affect a longer-term future rather than now or the just next four years.
I have come to like being single at this age, but I think I liked it when I was younger too. It has been a decade or more since I had any thought of marriage. I have friends of a wide age range, and a few who are close enough to call family.
If there is any social stigma attached to being single in old age, I haven’t noticed it and women, due to their longer, average life spans, often live alone in their later years. Most old women I have known were divorced or widowed, if not without children or grandchildren. Most old men I have known, however, were married.
As to retired, it was not my choice. I was forced out after a year of unemployment; not many companies will hire elders - men or women. But this blog and its associated activities engage me as much or more than many of the jobs I worked with the advantage that should I come to dislike it, I won’t need to continue just to pay the rent.
Even if the blog did not take a lot of time or, on the off chance I abandoned it, there are so many things to do, places to go, stuff to learn, I would be as busy. I have never been bored a day in my life and I don’t expect that to happen in whatever number of years I have left. I am certain I will die saying, "Wait a minute, let me finish this book." Or blog post. Or conversation.
There is less money by two-thirds or so than when I was working, but I don’t feel poor. I can’t buy on whim anymore nor can I afford to make mistakes with purchases as I did too frequently in the past. But a fortunate development that seems to come automatically with old age is that I don’t want as much stuff as I once did. And I don’t feel deprived, which was so in my younger years, when I cannot afford something I want.
All in all, I am quite happy in my circumstances.
I mention all this because I have nothing more to go on, in discussing a single old age without children or grandchildren, than my own experience. How about the rest of you? Are there any single, childless, retired people reading this who can enlighten us further?
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone continues his story of long-haul trucking in Driving Test - More Than Half a Century Ago.]