“Just call,” the Cowboy and I told a friend of ours the other day. She was sad, lonely and wasn’t sure what she could do about it.
“If you want company, if you want to go somewhere, if you want to go visit your kids,” I asked her, “Do they know? You’ve got to let them or us or someone know. And, if you need anything, you need to call us, we’re happy to come by and we want to help.”
That was one of the days we had gone by with a home cooked meal over the holidays. This morning, we were thinking we should go check on her, wish her a happy new year and had planned to make her cookies. Ironically, she called before we even got the cookies in the oven today to check on us and just talk.
This friend of ours.. she is 94-years-old and still lives alone. It’s where she wants to be – still living in the house where she was born in, that has been in her family for generations. But she is limited as to who she sees and what she is able to do, without the help of family or a friend. And few apparently came to visit with her or take her anywhere around the holidays. She was absolutely depressed about it.
She reminds me of one of my neighbors back in Madison. And of my grandmother a bit. And I hate more than anything that anyone ever feel alone and helpless to do anything about it. I know I certainly don’t want to be if I reach a ripe old age and still have my health and wits about me.
I may be off here – but based on the experiences I’ve had being very close to my own grandmother, making sure she and I did something every week when she was still alive and seeing some of the same sadness in her over the years as well as in countless neighbors, friends and even in my own family, some advice for those feeling alone:
- If you’re lonely, call someone and tell them.
- If you want to go somewhere, make plans to go.
- If you need something, ask.
- Don’t feel like a burden doing any of these things. Most likely you never are. But if you ever sincerely feel that way after being clear having others around would mean a lot to you, chances are someone else who might like your company more than the person you’re seeking it from.
- Enjoy public transit. Make plans to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. What are you waiting for?
- Get yourself a laptop. Have someone tutor you in a few basics of something like Facebook and link up with your kids and grandkids who are miles and states away. They may want to talk with you but you have to be willing to learn their lingo as much as they need to remember how to use yours – picking up a phone, dialing and actually talking ‘in person’ isn’t as common anymore as one might think. Have someone tutor you as well in what online scams look like so that you don’t fall prey to anything that’ll hurt you financially or otherwise while you’re at it.
- Take an art class.
- Learn a foreign language and travel.
- Plan a gathering at your home and invite your neighbors, allow them into your life, don’t just assume no one cares because they don’t automatically stop by.
- Try and remember what it was like to have a young family. Everyone is always going somewhere and has something to do, someone to take care of. They’re busy. And they usually think of you late at night after the hustle and bustle has died down in their homes when it’s too late to call. While they may email, you don’t have a computer. Communication fails. But not because they’re not thinking of you.
If I’m totally off track on any of the above, forgive me. I’m not an expert. I just have a heart and hate to see you sit home alone talking to no one but a tv all day when someone would love to get your call.
Call. Get out. Ask. Enjoy life while you can and invite others along for the ride.
For the rest of us, perhaps we might all do a better job to think more often about our family and neighbors. I know I need to. I’m as guilty as anyone of letting too many days go by without a call to my dad or other family. (Dad and I are way better now that he’s got a cell phone and has learned to text!) There’s a lot to learn from spending time with someone who’s lived a long, good life. We should consider ourselves the lucky ones.
Off to deliver cookies.