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Finding New Friends in Old Age

EDITORIAL REMINDER: One of the reasons Time Goes By is such a friendly place to have a conversation is that from day one, no commenter has been allowed to personally attack me or anyone who posts a comment.

Disagree about ideas? Fine. Assail others? Never.

On Monday's post, one reader attacked my research abilities and my thinking skills. That person's comment has been removed and he or she is now permanently banned from commenting here. No recourse.

That's how it's done at TGB. Fortunately, it doesn't happen often.

* * *

Senior-loneliness

A quick search around this blog reveals that about once a year we discuss loneliness among elders including all the terrible statistics related to people who feel lonely.

For example, Medical News Today recently reported that

”Two new meta-analyses from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, UT, reveal that loneliness and social isolation may increase the risk of premature death by up to 50 percent.”

We could discuss that again (and probably will in the future), but last week a new reader, Albert Williams, left a comment on a 2014 post about friends in old age that interests me:

”Whew! I'm glad I found this site,” wrote Williams. “I was beginning to think that I was the only person with such problems, and that, perhaps, there was something wrong with me.

“However, after a bit of introspection, I realize that this is not completely true. (Completely? Try old, ugly, curmudgeonly, short-tempered, cynical, and a few more applicable adjectives...)

“Time has, indeed, taken its toll. I am now an old man. Most of my life-long friends are gone. I've never had any kids; I've outlived two wives; and almost all of my family on both sides have already died.

“I find it very easy to make new acquaintances, but these seem to never develop into the deep, trusting, abiding friendships I had when I was young. Loneliness, apparently, has become a permanent part of my remaining days, and my best friends nowadays are my dogs and my computer.”

That is a familiar thought for me. Most of my “deep, trusting, abiding friendships” of many years have died or live far away and the people I enjoy spending time with where I live now haven't crossed to that special status yet although two or three are heading in that direction.

It's close enough to true to say that all websites aimed at elders repeat the same, facile solutions on this subject: join a senior center, make use of online groups, figure out local transportation options if you don't drive anymore.

But none of that gets to the more ephemeral problem that Albert Williams is talking about and they don't discuss the reasons this happens to so many old people.

Here are a couple of my disjointed thoughts about how this happens:

Disability, health conditions and just plain being more tired than when we were young keep many of us at home. I know that it has been years since I have booked social engagements two days in a row and I sometimes need more days in between.

We no longer have careers and children in common as a starting place for new friendships. In fact, the only thing we can be certain of sharing in old age is our health which, as a reader noted recently, many are reluctant to talk about and too many others are guilty of oversharing.

Social media – texting, Facebook, etc. - have taken a toll on friendly telephone conversations. Remember when the phone would ring at random times and a friend was on the other end seeking to make a dinner appointment or just chat for awhile?

Few people I know do that much anymore. We make appointments – actual appointments – via text or email to chat on the phone. I appreciate that with my far-away old friends but I miss the serendipity of telephone visits with people nearby even as I have become accustomed to making these appointments.

No one can decide to make someone a friend. The thing about friends who fit like an old shoe is that it takes time - and the effort to keep in touch between in-person visits.

Always, a new friendship has surprised me even back in the days when it seemed easier than now. After some period of time, usually several months, I think, I realized one day, “Hmmm. When did Tom, Dick or Mary become a friend? I didn't see it coming but here it is and I am glad for it.”

It happened while we were going to movies together, sharing stories about ourselves, recommending books to one another and becoming comfortable enough together that we came to relax together in ways we can't until we have come to trust.

Those opportunities seem to diminish as we grow older. Albert Williams is not alone and the problem of elder loneliness, according to researchers, is increasing. I'm pretty sure some of you have plenty to say about this.

(There is a new-ish category of friends, online friends we have never met in person or only once or twice that I believe are important to our well-being and expand our lives in important, lovely ways. But that conversation is for another day.)

Comments

After my husband died I was on a mission to make new friends. I joined clubs, did some volunteering, went to a lot of events at the local senior hall ---day trips, travelogs, lectures, book club, movie and lunch club. Yada, yada, yada. What I've found after three years of trying---really trying---is that all I was making were a lot friendly acquaintances. I'm of the opinion, now, that deep friendships are not in the cards at my age and I've had to redefine the meaning of friendship. The good ones have come and gone. The ones I have now are for fun and entertainment but not much more.

I'm happier with on-line acquaintances, and am building quite a community of them...but when I start talking over the phone, there's a strain to my voice. It's harder, and maybe it's because I have to think what to say before the other person stops speaking, or there's silence. Maybe that pause that doesn't happen when communicating via text or messaging on-line, means my brain function is slower. I sometimes don't even like the accents or tone of voice that I hear on the phone, compared to a text, which I read in my own regional dialect! Oh dear, I have just realized how cranky I've become. On the other hand, I am fostering new friendships with older as well as younger people in person. I have one young woman over for coffee (never clean the house for that) weekly, and another meets me for lunch every week. Another good new friend goes on day trips with me monthly. I admit having a clay studio to go almost daily has helped meet new folks, as well as being active in my church. OK, enough from me...

I'm an alcoholic. Even with such a deeply shared interest and involvement with convention committees and meetings, I find it hard to make deep friendships that stick. I live with a wonderful man who isolates. He likes being by himself. Not me. I'm used to crowds around, but like others I find my old drunk friends have all died. I'm determined not to be alone. That will help.

Thank you once more Ronnie for using one of your reader's comments -and hello to Albert- to stimulate an engaging conversation. I've noticed 2 contradictory trends in my friendships as I've grown older. One I refuse to waste time on meaningless interactions but at the same time I'm more generous about compartmentalism. I've got bocce friends & tai chi friends who are fun to be with. A few times it deepens but more often not. Book club friends have grown closer as we've spent years together. I guess I'm more open to different types of friendships.

Friends, or lack of them in my "golden years", a common topic with me lately and I have analyzed in great depth as to why (?). I retired from sales and marketing on 3/31, but left my career job of 29 years back in 2009 when the decline in "friends" really began and accelerated to very few by the time of my final retirement. In my multi-state sales territory I was very popular and did my job well, so I always had people to see and talk to by phone and email, never a dull moment and then at home I had my wife and two boys. I still have the wife, but the boys are grown now, and few of my business "friends" stay in touch--so maybe they were more of business associates than friends. All but a couple of them are out of touch, but maybe two dozen or more are Facebook friends, but that really means nothing because we rarely communicate and almost never (mostly never meet in person. The trend is pointing to just my wife soon (plus my boys occasionally) and a visit with out of state family a couple times per year, but even that is waning as everybody gets older.

Why? My leading theories are:
1) I am a tad unique and I am overly analytical and I think people sense it and tire quickly of my "know it all" perspectives. I think I scare them away. Plus they sense that I really never fully engage and eventually I'm dismissed as independent and unengaging.
2) I think I had friends in the past for business purposes, sharing the business battles, and when single, years ago, I reached out to others to be part of the scene and mainly to look for a girlfriend. So there were gains to be made by reaching out.
3) My marriage has only gotten better and better through the years and my comfort level is so good with my wife, I ask myself "why do I want to be with other people that require me to make an effort to get along and be entertaining and interesting when I can just hang out with my wife and have effortless fun, friendship, and romance?" Luckily, she feels the same way and she does not have any external friends either, so I think this reason, #3 might be the leading culprit.

The good news, should I ever really need friends, after 40 years of sales and marketing, I could turn on my sales "charm" (if there is any left in old age) and find friends, but I'm not certain I would want to as I progress from 70 to 80 ( I hope I make it). So one good friend, and 2 or three occasional friends (a lunch or breakfast every few months at best) and a small family circle. That's it, I'm learning to go with it because apparently it is all that I want or need.

Pardon the long post, but it was a good exercise to walk through this.

PS: Ronni, I like your policy of "booting out" negative people from the comments.

You should have been a writer or a TV producer. Oh wait a minute. You were and are. Silly me. What strikes me is how well your piece resonates with your readership and how well you articulate what ails us all. I would reiterate a bit on information in your "How to Start a Retired Men's Club" piece the year before last to underscore the importance of relationships in our elder years. As you said in the piece, there is ample research to indicate that we live longer, particularly men, when we have meaningful relationships with other men. Wider horizons for mental and physical exercise seem to be the tonic for what much of what ails us. If there's no retired men's club in Andrew's area, perhaps he might consider starting one. Have him contact me. jkbrandt@aol.com. I'd be happy to share what little I know beyond the primer you featured in your piece. And remember, the person who has the most fun wins.

I've found that elders who have come to grips with their age and are still willing to put themselves forward find one another in volunteer opportunities. A lot of us can advise organizations if their membership is willing to recognize we may actually know something. Being in a small town may help but I'm not sure why such activity wouldn't be welcome anywhere. As long as I'm able that's the path I will take. Some pretty good friendships can be formed and even if we don't talk by phone we often do coffee or breakfast or lunch.

I'm 76 and gladly moved May 1 to a community with 240 people: folks from 62 to 102. I eat one meal a day with interesting people who are becoming closer friends. I can still drive but there are drivers from my UU fellowship who come and take those who can't to services on Sunday. We have a small group ministry twice a month in this building. More ways to keep choir friends and other good people. I see my Al-Anon friends weekly. All these people have volunteered to help me when I need eye injections but there is a driver here as well. I can keep a pet so my cat hangs out on my lap. I got her a fish to watch. I have no relatives in my state of Georgia (a few cousins live in Pa. and NJ.) I can't say I never feel lonely but I felt that way sometimes when I was married so it's not people but other issues (spiritual, social, philosophical) that determine that state of mind for me. And they can all be adjusted.

Well, you are one of my online friends. I have followed you for quite awhile.

Sorry to hear about the trolling, glad you nipped it in the bud.

I am going to take a page from my mother, who is 89 and recently moved to an assisted living center. She is so busy with her friends, she is never at the center during the lunch hour. She has church activities and is so very very happy. She never complains about being lonely. When she was living independently, she said the nights were kind of boring but other than that her life is full of friends and activities.

Couple things come to mind for me. First, I'm lucky in that I have family and 2 old friends nearby, and second because I am finding in my local UU congregation the same quality of friendships I have found in previous congregations. I know it will take time for these new relationships to deepen, and I'm willing to put the time in. But actually I am happy spending time by myself and I like connecting with old friends who are far away by computer or text message. So at this point (I'll be 75 in November), I am content. When the time comes that I can't drive or get out much any more, I don't know how I will feel but I am practicing optimism.
This blog helps with many aspects of aging, so thank you Ronni for another good topic!

Forgot to say I moved to a new area last year, and as a single woman, was nervous about starting over with friends. That line should have been the first of my post, sorry.

Unbelievable, Ronni, I finished an email from a wonderful friend I had while living in another part of Texas. We were discussing our desire to stay home because we rather enjoy our time with ourselves. Today's my birthday and I'd decided to get up, dress, and wander around the city doing what I want. Well, what I want to do and am doing is staying in comfortable clothes by myself doing what I want to do. I'd just finished reading and responding to an email from the particular friend I mentioned earlier, and lo and behold, there was today's message from your blog. It was weird. So thank you, once again, for expressing well what I and many others feel. Love your thoughts and ability to express them for the benefit of others.

It seems to me that most friends that I made came from doing things together over time, such as growing up, school, having babies and parenting, sometimes work. A lot of these activities meant a lot of learning and adapting. We didn't develop as friends just to be friends, but rather through a joint struggle. And that joint struggle took time. And as Woody Allen says, "showing up is 80% of life." I suspect that as we age, for various reasons, we seek out fewer opportunities to engage in activities in which we must struggle with a group over time.

I'm not lonely thanks to
* my husband who is two years older than I,
* neighbors, some of whom are quite friendly and helpful in keeping an eye on our house when my husband and I go on a trip,
* people I greet on my almost daily walks through a local park,
* friends we see at our monthly Toastmasters meetings, and
* our Starbucks friends whom my husband and I often chat with when we stop by for lunch.

Well written as usual. Not only phone conversations are gone, so are letters.

What has truly surprised me as I'm (s)aging, is that I actually prefer solitude most of the time. So much of my life prior to retirement was run by so many schedules and demands from without, that it's a luxury to be in a position to drive my own life, to only have to live up to my own expectations. My two dogs love me no matter what, so I hardly ever feel lonely! Friends are just a phone call or email away. I suspect that for many, a lot depends on what you've been accustomed to, or expect. I love the Oscar Wilde quote, "To love one's self is the beginning of a life long romance!" It takes a while to learn that! Love your posts!

My entire childhood was spent in a cottage court (now called a motel) with a very friendly grandmother and people were in and out of our living quarters constantly. I didn't know what it was like to be alone.

I thought I would go mad the first time I was truly alone all day and spent hours on the telephone talking to friends.

All that changed over the years of living, but I was never completely alone until my husband died. I was working then so I was too tired to feel loneliness at night and the TV filled in the gap of missing people.

I found new friends, but they have all died. By that time I had a computer and made new on-line friends, some I still have.

I now need to use a captioned phone so telephone chats are difficult (mostly for the person on the other line when they have to wait while I read the captions.) That interrupts the easy flow of conversation.

I don't know whether it's my ability to adapt to "what is" or if it has just happened naturally, but I have never felt lonely even though I lived alone for 30 years. My daughter moved in with me a few years ago and that helped. However, I am, for the most part, still alone. She works full time during the day and when she comes home at night we have brief talks about the day if there is news to share. She then goes to her room to talk to her daughters on the computer and catch up on the news or watch a video. We talk more when we go out to lunch with no other distractions to side-line us so I do have some interaction with her.

If I had to give up my computer I am sure I would be very lonely. For now, all is well.

As you know, Ronni, I work for the non-profit, EngAGE, Inc., an organization devoted to providing creative aging opportunities for older people in low-income apartment communities throughout Southern California, and now also in Portland, OR, and Minneapolis, MN. Earlier this year, Tim Carpenter, CEO/Founder of EngAGE, wrote this article for Next Avenue: "A Cure for Senior Loneliness Is Within Our Reach" - http://www.nextavenue.org/cure-senior-loneliness/ Choosing to spend time alone and enjoying it is wonderful, but having "built-in" availability for arts and wellness classes and events, at no extra cost, right where you live, offers the additional possibility of meeting people and developing friendships based on shared creative interests. We're working to make sure more communities provide these opportunities.

Hi, Ronni - - Excellent subject choice. Between your lines, I read that you're opening the door for suggestions, - -'what works'. I'd suggest that it's being willing to fail. If you can, put yourself in the mental mold of a typical 16-year-old boy. As that boy, you find that far too many girls you ask on a date simply turn you down. But you persist, and finally there's a girl who says, 'Sure'. As older people, we face the same odds. A tipoff - - body language. If you see someone, say more than once, at a store or a coffee shop, and they move slowly and with no sense of urgency, they're probably just 'using-up time'. Probably with few friends and a bit lonely. Time to employ your inner 16-year-old: Be willing to fail. Your opening line might be something like, "Hi, - - I've got a few extra minutes, and it looks like you might, as well. I was wondering what you did for a living, 'back in the day'. I'd kinda guessed maybe a teacher. Am I close?" And from that point, play it by ear, "Coffee?" "A walk?" etc. And if you're turned down, then see it as their loss, not yours. Then, once you've recovered your sense of purpose, give it another go. Each time you'll get better at it. You might even want to report-in on 'what works for you'.

I should add that we also have been developing and serving inter-generational apartment communities where people of all ages can share in creative classes and events -- an appealing choice for many, but not all older people!

Very well put as usual. And I agree with your decision to remove those who are negative. Your posts are always well thought out and well written. Readers commenting should do the same.

I think it's especially true for men ... that it's fairly easy to make new acquaintances, but hard to make new close friends. I don't know why. But as a man I would find if hard to call up another guy and ask him to go to the movies with me (for example) whereas that doesn't seem to be a problem for women. So for Albert, I'd advise joining clubs, taking part in activities ... perhaps joining a church. Or, as B has said since we've moved ... say yes to everything!

Many years ago, a group of "old" gentlemen friends decided to meet weekly to have lunch together. They decided on the restaurant and they decided on a name for their group. They called themselves the "ROMEO"--"Retired Old Men Eating Out"!!!!!I thought that was great and it shows you how, if elders really wanted to have social contacts, there is always a way to do it.

Wanted to comment on how wonderful your new teeth look, Ronni, from seeing you on your interview, but was so late in commenting, I saved it. I've kept up with your dental history, plans, and how it all progressed. Am always amazed at how good or bad teeth can influence one's appearance and first impressions. Also so glad you only allow rational, fair comments here.

I just returned from tutoring 2 women in the local library literacy program this morning and count them both as new, younger friends. Latinas, I've found, are closer to family and miss theirs, and thus perhaps, are more warm and open with older friends (like me).
I like my solitude and enjoy events more when I am not too busy. There is a local women's group here that offers many spin-off groups for any and every interest you can think of, several of which I have enjoyed attending off and on. I am lucky in that I have my husband of 21 years and we enjoy spending time together even if it is just watching T.V. Also my daughter lives within 40 miles or so and she still enjoys seeing her mama....my sons are not able to spend any time with me but that's OK.

My husband had to make a concerted effort to develop new friendships after a health crisis...he is fine now, attends a men's group lunch 2 x a month, and a high school alumni breakfast group once a month. I have several close women friends for visits over lunch and movie dates, but know that I must make the effort to connect and to reach out to friends who do not live close by.

Great interview on Saturday, I love that you love to laugh. So, at 74, with some health issues that definitely eat away at my energy level, sometimes I am very lonely, most of the time not. Though I really enjoy most people, I can't do too much at a time, and still have energy for my other loves..........my gardens and studio. Neither produce the way they (I)used to, but spending time in the creative zone in either place lifts me, connects me in a way that often people don't. And then there's nature, another great friend. I do long now and then, for a "committed companion," someone, male or female, who also wanted a deep, loving relationship on a somewhat permanent basis. Not in the same house! I love having my home to myself. I think the important thing is to love as much as possible, ourselves, our daily chores, animals, the sky, friends, the person behind the checkout counter. If I make someone else laugh, have a good conversation, etc, I am very happy. An old farmer once warned me, "don't fall in love with your animals, shug." I've thought a lot about that, and decided that, for me, loving as much as possible keeps me going.

I do quite well without people on the whole--except for my super-wonderful husband and some of the fellow volunteers I work with in cat rescue/rehoming. He will soon be 88 to my 81, but (admittedly selfishly!) I hope he outlives me or we shuffle off at approximately the same time. I really can't imagine life without his companionship.

I never was an extrovert and didn't need a lot of social life even in my younger years. When I was employed, I worked long hours and had little time or interest in a frenetic social life. Now that I'm retired, I still don't. Online acquaintanceships are great, and I truly enjoy TGB-- the post itself and the comments.

Troll-be-gone! I totally agree.

(BTW, Ronni, love the new photo on the masthead! It shows off your movie-star dental work and hairstyle to a "T". I listened to the rest of the interview, too. Terrific.)

I agree with your actions. It's your"house" and your ground rules apply. For another perspective on public space, I submit to you the following discovery:
Today I learned about a podcast entitled, " Conversations with people who hate me." The 'caster is a mere child, Dylan Martin, in his late 20s, a gay Caucasian man who is a digital whiz, who also creates videos, and some of his viewers post offensive and hateful comments. The premise of his podcast is to speak and engage candidly with some who posted negative comments. He approaches them with kindness and curiosity. What happens is that they listen deeply to each other and express their opinions respectfully, from what I could glean from a few I sampled. I thought the premise was fascinating considering the times we live in. I think intention matters, and somehow he makes it work for him.

I'm a bit late to the party with this discussion, but being a young widow and a widow again recently, I've had to recreate a new normal in both situations. I'm a people person and through the years I've managed to get my people fix! One fun people fix is my quick trips to two convenience stores. I stop for gas and newspapers . Through the years I've developed fun relationships with the owners and others who frequent the stores. I've been invited to picnics,weddings and trips. It's rather a hoot...I go and then I leave. Just wonderful hardworking folks who include me, if I want. All acquaintances. That's my quick people fix coupled with two lifelong female pals and other activities I'm involved with. A wonderful aside is, if my"store" pals don't see me for awhile, they call to see if I'm ok. Nothing was set up to do that, it just happened and I so value these folks for who they are.

Every once in a while, one of your posts, Ronni, gets me to thinking - off and on- for the entire day. this is one of those posts. Friendship.

It seems to me that friendship comes in degrees. When I was young, with my whole lifetime ahead of me, I developed long-time friends; we shared our lives, hopes and dreams. The ability to share of course, is part of friendship.

I am incredibly lucky to have one of these friends still. With great sadness, i have to report that the others have gone before me. Oh, I am grateful to have known them.

With this as preamble, the relationship that a friend represents is totally different. If we can share a giggle, or a common denominator of any kind, we are on our way to friendship.

My point being, for me anyhow: I know those early and lengthy friendships are no longer possible. But the ones still possible are worth pursuing, even though I know they will be different.

Another "take. Young friends."My m-i-l, an advisor to my blog, died at 101. She never complained of loneliness. (We lived 2,000 miles away.) The almost 100 remembrances on her 100th birthday were testimony to newly-cultivated, late-in-life younger friends. They enabled her to live alone in her home of 60+ years until she died.
Two contacted her daily; took her to the market ( Trader Joe's on Tuesday with one, Safeway on Thursday with the other); or asked what food they could bring her. Her "secret:" Widowed at 50, she said she realized early that if she didn't make the effort, she'd be alone or surrounded by those giving "organ recitals." She was truly interested in people, was very wise, and she made a special effort to befriend younger people --eg. families moving into her neighborhood received small gifts for new babies. The result: new devoted friends and long friendships. (The odds of them predeceasing her were slim.)
Sending thanks for what you have done for so many, Ronni, and strength as you deal with your new challenges. Susan

New teeth and hairstyle aside (both of which look great), I'm struck that the biggest smile on the masthead is you - at your oldest.

Great topic. I learn so much from this blog.
Thank you All

Just learned about your blog on Facebook. What caught my attention was the article on friends (lack of) in old age. I am 74 and have never been one to have a lot of friends and, instead, acquaintances. Before retirement from a job that including having contact with many people during the day, it was good to go home to quiet. A few years after retirement, it's no longer good to be alone. Living in a small rural community, there are few opportunities to meet new people. Most of the time I don't mind it but, then, there are other times the loneliness is nearly overwhelming. My goal is, hopefully (money, or lack of is an issue) to move to a retirement community but, right now, my 94 year old mother is my priority. Sorry. Guess I got carried away.

Once again, I'm getting to this post a bit late. Thoughtful and interesting comments, as usual, and the topic of friendship always seems to generate a fair number.

Being more of an introvert, I've never had what I would consider a lot of friends at any one time. This is as much due to my more solitary nature, and lack of interest in many things that seem to draw other people together. It's probably also due to my feelings of not being able to keep up with many friends. It seems to me that considering someone a friend comes with strings attached, not the least of which is staying in touch at least somewhat regularly. The annual Christmas card just never seemed adequate.

I have been an avid reader for most of my life, so perhaps having found so much comfort and mental stimulation in books has filled in for real life friends, too. When I'm deep in a story, the characters often feel much like friends (or enemies), people with whom I am emotionally involved and spend a great deal of time.

I do occasionally develop a new friendship, but it mostly seems to come, these days, from the gradual recognition that someone is a kindred soul and takes some time for either of us to take a risk and act on that.

I've become something I never wanted to be -- dependent upon family for friendship. Not close family, but ex-sisters-in-law and a few cousins. My "close" family doesn't like me, nor I them, so we don't stay in touch. The rest are dead. Oh, and my children stay in contact, but very casually, maybe every three weeks or so, when they have the time.

In high school I prided myself that I knew everyone in the school and they knew me. I was on the yearbook staff and could be counted on to know who everyone was in the photos. I belonged to the second-best clique and was voted to be on student council -- I had loads of friends back then and I really was a friend. I was always willing to step in and lend a hand no matter how difficult the job. But then my dad yanked me out of high school and enrolled me in college and everything changed. I was a much smaller frog in a huge pond. Had I been allowed to graduate with my friends in high school I'm sure I would have adapted to college. But being thrown into the pond without a life-line, I withdrew into myself and cringed my way through the days, and I was too young to hang out in the beer bars in the evenings.

And, you could say that I've lived the rest of my life like that. A few "friends" who were really not MY friends, but were wives of friends of my husband-at-the-moment. (I've had three). And, of course, when you divorce, you lose those "friends" because they were never really your friend to begin with. You usually lose the in-laws, too, but my first mother-in-law and a couple of her daughters REALLY liked me and stayed friends, because they liked me more than they did their son and brother.

I tried to make friends from work, but if they left or if I left, we found we had little to say to each other once we had caught up on mutual work friends.

So, I am fortunate to have a husband of over thirty years who is still fun to talk to and to go places with and do things together. Needless to say, I must die before he does or I'll be completely alone. I've tried to make additional friends along the way, but it hasn't worked out. I'm too much into politics or in the wrong party. I read too much or not enough. I'm not really interested in sports, neither watching nor participating. And, thank heaven, my husband doesn't work on cars in the driveway!

Perhaps if I did out-live my husband I could make a friend, but I think I wouldn't want to go to the effort. Underneath it all, it just seems like too much work for what would have to be a short amount of time -- I doubt I'd live all that long if my husband were gone.

Now that I read back over this, it sounds like sour grapes, but I don't feel that way at all. I'm just trying to be honest and practical...

You really know how to make a person THINK!!

Ronnie, your last article re friends and ageing was so spot-on! My advice to any young woman today would be - make sure you fall pregnant and bring a lovely responsible young person to adulthood! I was always frightened of marriage, and although I did dip my toe in the water and marry somebody, it didnt work out and I think I was marrying only because I felt I should. I was always frightened of falling pregnant, too, and successfully avoided it somehow.

Today, I live by myself at the age of 76 in a small town where I was able to afford a house that didnt have a huge price tag on it. I am very lonely in my town which is right out in the Aussie bush in a little town there and, being a city person all my life, I have found it very different to settle and fit in with people here who do not welcome city folk. I have a sister who has a fairly full life. She always seems to have one of her adult children or grandchildren popping over to see her or email her or phone her. She is fairly content.

My big regret is not having children, not in order for them to look after me although that would feel nice today but just so that I have a son or a daughter who cares what happens to me and phones me to find out how I am regularly. So any child-bearing persons out there, make sure you have a child that you can love and who will love you forever.

I like to be alone. I am much more open and social on Facebook, and I have a blog where I write and sell my work. I come from a music scene that I was very supportive of. I went out of my way to support bands, artists, and friends. Now older, my life is changing. I feel a need to share my wisdom and talent. When I show my work, or do readings those same people don't support me as I move out into the world. A few do and that is very nice. It is disillusioning for me. Seems people want me to support them but they don't, in return, support me. I am looking for a support group of women my age to get back into finding work or something of that sort. My libido is low and maybe my expectations are too high. I like this place. I see that I am not alone in sharing my thoughts and feelings here... grateful. I have a family, husband and two boys, but lost both parents and close friends of my youth are gone as well. I am not as trusting of making close friendships as I once was. I do spend a good deal of time writing about and remembering my friends of youth. Turning 60 next year and I feel a change coming on… wondering what that is all about as well.

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