Two-and-a-half years ago I retired from my job at a hospital in the city and moved two hours away to a small town to be nearer to my daughter and her family. I wanted to be part of my grandsons’ lives. Now I can babysit, go to soccer games, attend school events and just spend time together, all the things I had hoped for. The boys are both in school now and I find myself at loose ends.
I don’t want to tag along with my daughter, I don’t want her to feel responsible for me.
I was never very much of a social person, a personal life was never a priority. I was too busy as a single mom working full time, raising my children and looking after my widowed mother-in-law.
I never learned the social graces. I never join a social group. My friends were mostly coworkers.
I keep in touch with one who lives 2 hours away. we e-mail a couple of times a week and meet for lunch once a month in the good weather.
Our small town does not have a senior centre nor YWCA. The closest seniors centre is 45 minutes away, in the winter not always accessible as we live in the snowbelt.
My neighbours are either very young (newly weds) or elderly (in their 80’s). We don’t have a community newspaper so it is hard to find out about community events. Most people I encounter seem settled in their ways. Where do I start?
Do you have any words of advice for someone who is starting over from scratch? I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you might have.
— Starting over
Dearie: She sounds so unhappy?
Barbara: I’m not sure she’s that unhappy. She’s looking for some answers and trying to figure out how to manage the next part of her life. Seems to me that a lot of things have gone right for her and there is still much to appreciate.
Dearie: But she says there’s nothing for her to do.
Barbara: Do you really believe that? Do you think maybe she’s making excuses because she has to do something she’s never done before? I hear just a tiny bit of whining about the years she spent being a single mom and caring for her mother-in-law. “Poor me.”
Dearie: I think you’re being a little harsh on her. I can understand how she must feel. She did a lot for everyone else and now maybe she feels like she’s not needed anymore.
Barbara: Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but now she has to figure out what her interests are, what’s important to her. And it is hard work. Good for her for asking for help.
Dearie: Don’t you wonder what she means by “never learning the social graces?” I wonder why she thinks that? She says she had friends at work and keeps up with one of them.
Barbara: Exactly, I don’t think she’s giving herself enough credit, recognizing what she can do. And the more she feels sorry for herself and says “I’m not the social type,” the harder it will be to make the effort.
Dearie: You know, you’re right she talks about neighbors and wanting to go to a senior center and wanting to hear about community events.
Barbara: That’s it, mama. Things are there for her, it may just take an effort to figure out how to get it. She says everyone is stuck in their ways. I think she’s a little stuck too.
Dearie: Don’t be so hard on her.
Barbara: Mama, don’t be annoyed with me, sometimes we all need to be pushed a little, encouraged. Didn’t you do this for me when I was a teenager? Isn’t this getting out of your comfort zone.
Dearie: I suppose, but not so easy when you’re older.
Barbara: Mama, you don’t stop changing just because you’re older. It takes an effort and you may need help. You know the expression, it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a village to support an older adult. We all need a village! No one should have to do it alone.