An Update: The Best Books on Aging
INTERESTING STUFF: 2 February 2013

Journal Entry: 1 February 2013

Dear Diary:
The house feels empty these past two days, the two days since Jim Stone drove off to continue his cross-country odyssey of personal errands and visits with other friends along the way.

He had been here about nine days during which time it rained pretty much all day, every day. We ate a lot of good food, at home and in restaurants, defied the weather one morning to drive to Astoria for lunch at the Columbian Cafe and to buy some local, wine/maple-cured salmon.

We talked a lot (was it mostly me?), telling stories from the many years since we had last seen one another, of the books we've read, catching up on news of mutual friends, dissecting the politics of our era.

And we were quiet too - reading, writing email and because it's what we all do these days, puttering around for long periods online while forwarding the good stuff to each other from across the room.


We have both turned gray since we last visited in person. When could that have been? Certainly more than a decade ago although we've been in touch via email these past few years while he has been in Wyoming, Virginia, etc. and, recently, New Zealand.

Even though I kept up with blog posts, Jim's visit felt like a little island of time separate from my usual days, maybe like being on a train ride for a week. But it also felt ordinary, almost as if he were frequently here – lived down the lane, perhaps. Comfortable. Companionable. Agreeable.

We hugged goodbye at his car Tuesday and as I returned to the apartment in the early morning rain (good god, what a corny scene setting) tears unexpectedly stung my eyes.

Back inside, I found myself weeping quietly and I went back to bed for a couple of hours to nurse an unfamiliar ache.

Is it about Jim's leaving? Well, yes. No telling when we'll see one another again and at my age (Jim is 10 or 12 years younger), will there be a next time?

But these tears are something more than sadness at a friend's departure. I've said goodbye many times without this shiver of disquietude. It is different this time. Harder. More painful. An over-sized lump of dis-ease in my throat.

Yeah. Big brave me who has insisted all her life that she wants to live alone, prefers it that way and when she is really honest, admits to herself that she's just too selfish - well, self-absorbed is closer to true - to accommodate another person in the same living space.

Is that ground shifting now? It felt good to have someone around to plan dinner with, to chat with over breakfast, to share driving and dishwashing – the ordinary stuff.

It has been so long, living in Maine and now Oregon these past six-and-a-half years, since I've been with old friends in New York. I thought I missed the city - and I do - but this is a new kind of hurt.

It's a little late in life - and seems unfair - that at an age when one's circle of friends is diminishing as a natural course of things and nothing to be done about it, to wish to live a different way. To want another heartbeat in the house.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: The Hygiene Hypothesis – Farm Germs Might Be the Best Medicine


Oh Ronni, it may be "a little late in life" to have the realization you're experiencing, but it's not TOO late in life! IS IT? No! A door has just opened! Fun!

Your reaction is perfectly understandable. Juliet had it right: "Parting is such sweet sorrow."

It's never too late.

And too, I felt that way when one of my dearest friends moved to Seattle. Exactly that way.


What a sweet and tender post. Thank you, Ronni. I know just what you mean about this change. I used to long for solitude. My first husband was in the merchant navy and I used to enjoy his weeks on the ship as much as the ones he spent at home, albeit in a different way. Later, when I lived alone for a while, I was totally content. These days, though, it is quite different. Without my partner in it, the house feels empty and I am counting the hours till his return. He's the same. It's a huge change for both of us and I suspect it is that when we get old every parting is a reminder that the final one is drawing ever closer.

Good morning,

I can certainly relate. I also enjoy living alone and sometimes suffer an ache due to the distance from those I love. Not much is absolute in life and I am learning to live with ambivalent feelings in my old age.

I still like living alone, but do sometimes suffer from what I think of as "the road not taken" sadness.

Hope the sun shines soon.

What a wonderful post! But I agree with Nikki, is it too late?

I have all the seasons of the Golden Girls on DVD and am often jealous of the camaraderie of just sitting at the kitchen table eating cheesecake together late at night.

Maybe a like-minded roommate is in your future?

I'm afraid some of us realize too late that we might like a companion in this last stage of life. Why too late? The choices have diminished with bad health and death, and having a "body" is just not the same as having that compatible "somebody."

Perhaps the fact that Jim was so compatible makes the parting so much harder. There are people that leave a hole in your heart when you must say goodbye and the emptiness when they are gone accentuates the fact that you are alone.

Tears came to my eyes when I read today's post. I hope Jim will return and you can have the wonderful joy of sharing time with a dear friend.


Thank you for sharing your feelings so eloquently and so openly and so generously, Ronni. And, perhaps, that's what you miss ... the sharing. Some things are better done on one's own, but many are better when shared. And it sounds as if you and Jim had a natural sensitivity to each other's rhythms and needs. Rather ideal. Departures suck (pardon my language, please) ... and it is always harder on the one left behind. I can go teary over a used kleenex. But then one returns gradually to reality and re-adapts once again; it's just that re-adapting takes more time and more energy these days, like just about everything else. BIG BIG hug.

Ronni, tears came to my eyes when I read your post this morning.

I could relate to many of your thoughts and feeling.

I've been meeting lots of people here in my new home BUT nothing takes the place of old friends that you have shared so much in your life.

The conversations can be pleasant but there is nothing like sharing a story or a laugh with someone you have know for years.

I'm lucky I still have two old friends to share visits with, even though they are by phone, they are

I love my solitary life in the same way you do, but I sometimes wish for a Jim in my life. I think I'd like a "sometime" friend to share things with. But there are down sides too, to having another person in my life. And I inevitably conclude I cherish my space and solitude too much too give it up for someone else. Selfish? Self-absorbed? Perhaps. But I usually conclude that it's the "me time" I've earned after decades of always accommodating others.

Ronni: I am so sorry for your heartache. Even though surrounded by family and friends, the loneliness is something I experience too. It's not just your circumstances. I feel loss very strongly these days.

Is what "it is really like to get older" about increasing numbers of friends and acquaintances gone? Inevitably.

I was deeply moved by this post as a very solitary person who nonetheless has been partnered most of my life -- the balance of the two needs is something I've always struggled with.

where there is breath, there is choice.
touching post.

Ronni--For the first several sentences, I was convinced that you were passing along someone else's journal entry - the voice was so different from the one to which I am most accustomed.

When we think about it, and are honest with ourselves, many of us (I'm pretty sure) have similar feelings - about the path(s) we did not take. I sometimes wonder, for instance, where I would be/what I would be doing/how happy I would have been had I accepted a marriage proposal other than the ones from my husband.

Surely, in the short term, the pangs of "regret" are hard for you and me to accept; but, in the long term, we are surely leading the lives we wish to lead.

Even very solitary people like you can wish on occasion for a kindred heartbeat. Good luck in luxuriating in the feelings that you have - for a time. You get only the best wishes from me!

I have the same situation, and the same small, quick pangs over the many roads not taken. But we have made our choices, and we did what we had to do at the time.

No regrets, just little shadows of pain now and then.

Sadly, I have outlived the only two men I could ever have really wanted to share my life with. The first one was killed just before we were to be married. I married the second of them and was too young at the time to appreciate him so I left and we were divorced.

Very thought-provoking post related to some of the roads taken (and not taken) along the line. I haven't lived alone for a significant length of time in over 36 years. I did so for a while between marriages and divorces when I was 26-40, but that was a very different experience than it would be at 76+.

Fortunately, my spouse of 34 years (age 83) and I are basically in good health, but we accept--intellectually at least--that our luck is bound to run out maybe sooner rather than later. We're both introverts and thus do not have an extensive social circle. I've worked all my adult life and am quite independent. Still, I have no idea how (or even if) I would go forward alone if he predeceases me.

I admire your courage, Ronni, and that of other later-in-life women who are living alone--by choice or circumstance.

I know that feeling of heartache. I have raised 2 generations of children and still have one young adult living with me. I long for solitude, but the times she has gone away for long periods, I feel that lingering heartache you mention. The day is coming when she will leave for good and I will face a true empty nest. Not sure what I will do and not sure I want to face it. Thanks for your honesty.

Wish I had the words to express my feelings about this beautiful post...and the comments. It touched me so deeply.

The moment we climb into our rental car in St. Pete, Florida, we turn on the radio The Dove, 105.5

Sooner or later a song comes on that grabs my heart. Dan Fogelberg...the song goes "I met an old friend at the grocery store. The snow was falling Christmas Eve,,,"

That song pulls me into the past, roads taken, not taken.

I walk the beach imagining someone from the past is walking toward me. I talk to him in my head, say sorry you had to leave so soon.

Dan Fogelberg tells the story of meeting his old lover in the grocery store on Christmas Eve. He taps her shoulder, they hug, they buy some beer, go sit in his car.

They talk about her marrying an Architect who keeps her safe and warm. Dan says he likes the stage but the travelling is hell.

They drink, talk and toast.

Then run out of things to say, and say goodbye. He watches her drive away.

So many people we meet, some good for us, others not so good,, but all these experiences create the people we grow up to be.

I hear that song and think of my father who didn't live to see me go back to university and become that teacher. Who would you talk to if they were in front of you right now?

What would you say?

What would you want to hear?

We're in a small senior woman owned condo in Miami.

My traveling partner and dear husband is looking at a map.

We've both worked our way through lonesome paths before meeting in university.

I too can't imagine life without him, even though we do some separate activities at home.

Below our window here, we see people arriving home from work. Families greet each other. A woman calls up to her teen son, He throws her shoes down to her.

They laugh.

Will I end up staring out a window, waiting for someone to visit me, or will I be that cool senior, volunteering, walking, writing, wearing whatever the heck I want?

Long post, Ronni, you made me think.

“Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”
Dr. Seuss

Your post has a familiar ring to it as I think most of us have been in a similar situation.Time helps heal emotional pain.

i get it. oh, how i get it, with tears streaming down my face.

I'm late as usual, Ronni, having read your poignant post yesterday and felt that familiar lump in the throat when someone important to us goes away - and yes, a tear or two for the loss of my friend who died in November.

I like the Dr. Seuss saying and Marian v.E. is as eloquent and warmly penetrative as always.

Yes there is a different loneliness that takes hold of us as we age. I recently moved from New Orleans to Chicago when my partner retired and though I am closer to my kids who live in the city I miss the familiarity of New Orleans and the friends. The friends I had in Chicago are either dead or gone and it's time to make some new but the shadows of those gone still haunt me.

Ronni, you know where the taps are, and how to turn them. As you get older solitude is often imposed on you. Sometimes simply because you don't have the energy to deal with making new friends.

I hear that, Ronni; I hear that.

Oh dear. I was hoping a cat would be enough. I guess not. But how about a woman friend?

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