I remember how my mother used to light up when I came from Canada to California to visit her at the private home for seniors where she lived with 5 or 6 other people of her age. Because my mom was not especially social or outgoing, always very pleasant and personable, but seldom seeking friendship, especially as she aged, she didn’t really have anyone other than the caretakers with whom she was especially fond or with whom she was connected.
When I came for a visit she perked up. Her energy was better, she interacted with me, her care takers, and even some of the other residents some times. She was interested in getting out and about, she talked of times when she felt happy and the family was all together. She asked me to come back soon. Sometimes she shared about her mother, sometimes we talked together about her sisters, events, people, times she remembered from the past. I don’t think they were always particularly happy times, but they were her times.
Many people in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and many way before that even, are alone. Their lifetime of partnership, children, grandchildren, has melted away with the swift passage of time. Family, adult children, grand children are on their own and very busy carving out a life for themselves. And so should they be doing exactly that- creating a healthy thriving life filled with love and relationships and challenges and satisfactions. It is their time to be doing that. And it is the time for the senior member of the family to sort out for themselves what is next? Who am I now? What brings me pleasure/satisfaction/reason for being? AND who loves me? Chances are no one loves JUST you/me. Hopefully we are loved by many, and although we are very clear and happy that they are all busy loving each other and having a good go at a good life, as we age we are obliged to shift our focus from out there to in here. Inside ourselves we more and more find a richness that there was not time or inclination to look for when younger.
I am aware that I have had over the many years of my long life periods of time when I was the very special one for one particular other. There have also been periods of time when I drew special people close to me and we all danced together in the world of survival. Now I wait to be invited to dance. In the mean time I have the luxury of going inside myself and I have the time to take a look around. What do I see? Do I like what and who I see? Sometimes I do and sometimes I do not. Do I know how to dance by myself? Can I seek a now and then partner to dance with and have that be satisfactory?
I think yes.
I am learning to expand who and what I see as a dancing with life partner: Aimee for sure, my many house plants where others might be saying their garden, movies I enjoy on my own, long walks in the sun or in a misty rain, my people who clean and take care of my yard, a neighbour I only have brief contact with now and then, people I meet regularly when walking Aimee, others who are attending a conference or workshop. I am learning short dances can add up and be very satisfying. Texting friends I do not see and won’t for ages, phone calls and more.
I am learning to see what IS and slide right past what ISN’T. My life is full and rich. I have many places from which to pick a dance partner and many opportunities to open myself for new experiences. I know you do as well. Let’s together be intentional about calling into our lives those who enrich us, please us, and help us expand.