New Friends

I accidentally made a new friend today. The woman is a friend of a friend, and she’s taking on a full time (as in 24 hours a day, seven days a week) caregiving job, so she’s looking for someone to fill in a few hours a week to give her a break. Anyone who has been in such a position knows that no matter how much you love a person, those breaks are very much needed. The problem, from what I understand, is that there are too few hours to really tempt someone who needs work, and too many hours for those who need just a bit of money because the extra income might jeopardize their main income. Somehow, my name got bandied about. At first, I said no because . . . well, because I’m out of the habit of saying yes, which has been The Bob’s main effect on me.

As I got to thinking about the request, I realized it would be good to have a bit of income to help fund some of my house renewal projects. (I just contracted for a few tons of rocks, both ornamental and practical — some will go around the house and garage to protect the foundations, some will be used to create pathways about my micro estate to make walking safer in my old age, and some will be used for a driveway.)

Even more than that, I don’t see myself going back to the senior center to just hang around once the restrictions are loosened (although I really enjoy being around most of the people I met there, I don’t especially enjoy playing games, which was our main activity), and except for the Art Guild, I don’t see myself continuing with the rest of my volunteer activities. In addition, one of these days, the contractors will be finished with all the projects that we’ve slated, and then what? Total isolation forever? I don’t see that, either.

So I told the caregiver I was willing to take the job. She stopped by today to interview me, and we really hit it off. When she found out this is my forever home, she was delighted because that meant I would always be a friend. She also approved of all that I’m doing to help with accessibility in my old age. And she said she’d be willing to be my caregiver if it ever got to that point. (She’s the second person who has offered her services. I’m not really sure what that says about me. Maybe that I really am as old as I am rather than as old as I think I am?)

One thing that’s really fun about meeting someone from a small town, especially one who has lived here all her life, is that she knows everyone I know. I think she was a bit surprised because apparently, the people I’ve become closet too are among the best the town has to offer. Special people, for sure! And somehow they gravitated toward me. Pulled in by my tractor beam of charm, no doubt. I’m only being halfway facetious with that last comment because it truly is astonishing how many really good friends I’ve made in the short time I’ve been here.

And now I’ve made another.

The final decision about the job isn’t hers, though her recommendation will be given great weight. I still have to meet the woman I will be caring for (visiting with?). And I will need to talk to the daughter. (Though that might not be necessary, because all she has to do is google me or check out this blog, and she’ll know more about me than I even know.)

But I don’t see that they will have a problem with me. I mean, what’s not to like, right? Admittedly, I might sound cold, looking at the job from a practical angle rather than a personal one, but I haven’t met the woman yet, and even if I had, I wouldn’t want to invade her privacy by talking about her. Though I will say, she sounds like an interesting woman, has lived here all her life, and knows (figuratively speaking) where all the bodies are buried. We also have mutual friends, and since I won’t know any of her stories, I’ll be a new audience, so there should be plenty to talk about. And oh! She lives just a couple of blocks away. How perfect is that?

We’ll see what happens this weekend when I meet her. If nothing else, I’ll make another new friend.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Being Centered

After Jeff died, I feared I would stagnate, so I tried to get into the habit of saying “yes” to invitations and to following people’s suggestions about things to do. This led me to many interesting activities, including a short road trip along Route 66, learning to shoot various guns, and many meals with friends. (Going against people’s suggestions also netted me interesting activities, such as my cross-country road trip. Many people warned me of the dangers and said I couldn’t go alone, but I could and I did.)

More recently, ever since I heeded the suggestion to buy a house in southeastern Colorado, I’ve again been saying a lot of yesses. These yesses, too, have let me to interesting activities, including a train ride through the Royal Gorge, artistic endeavors such as painting gourds and making wreaths, and many, many meals with friends.

During the ten days after Christmas, there were no activities, so I spent the time by myself. It felt good. Centered. As if I were pulling my life back into my life.

It felt especially good to be able to structure my days. A bit of writing in the morning, walking around noon when the sun had taken the chill off the winter air, making raw vegetable salads and other healthy things in the afternoon. And reading in the evening.

I am so often torn — being disciplined or treating myself; being alone or visiting with friends; being structured or acting spontaneously. Being centered helps to mend the tear, to find a balance between what I want to do and . . . well, what I want to do. I want to do all of it, because obviously, if I didn’t want to be disciplined, I wouldn’t even try. If I didn’t want to treat myself, I wouldn’t give in. If I didn’t want to be alone, I would add to my activities, if I didn’t want to be with people, I’d say “no” more often.

Daily blogging began the process of centering me. It’s both a discipline and a treat, a way of being alone and visiting, a way of being structured and spontaneous. Writing has always been important to me, and it’s good to have an excuse to indulge myself (though truly, one needs no excuse to write).

A center needs to be held loosely — if you hold on too tightly, the pressure can blow it apart. If you hold on too loosely, it turns in “a widening gyre” and the center cannot hold. Still, without doing any harm, I can certainly be more careful what I say yes to. I’ve backed away from one of the clubs I joined, will back away from some shared meals, and am backing into a healthier regime.

Oddly, I no longer fear I will stagnate. Perhaps what I called stagnation was simply being centered.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.