Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Facing Life Alone

It's tough getting older and facing life alone. This month, I've been in contact with people I know in this position and learned how they've coped. Twenty-three years ago, a friend and colleague lost her young husband to a heart attack and was left with a baby boy of four months and a daughter of five. The surviving child died of an asthma attack three years later. My friend found some comfort in her religion and threw herself into work.  We lost touch after I moved to Cape Town and then  - wham!  Yesterday, I got an e-mail - she'd been thinking of me. I wrote back and found that her son is grown up and married and she started up her own interior decorating business some years ago and now travels all over Africa in the course of her work.  Some affairs along the way, but no-one lasting. She is philosophical. Another dear friend (last in contact 37 years ago), found me on Facebook!  Her husband died 15 years ago.  She had to work very hard to bring up her two children alone and there was no-one in her life for a long time.  Now she loves a man twenty years older than herself - they've been together for seven years and he treats her well  - except that he likes to have other girlfriends as well. She puts up with it, glad to have him some of the time. Then at the party last Saturday night, the MC made a lovely speech about the 21-year-old girl and gave her some good advice - I remember he stressed that above all she should learn the art of forgiveness. He mentioned his 'late' son. We afterwards found out that his 19-year-old son had been stabbed and was killed when he tried to prevent a fight in his first year at 'varsity. His mother committed suicide a few months later. The father soldiers on and finds solace in helping others. My bank manager retired at the end of June - I was feeling sorry for him as he is 'bookish and owlish' and somewhat eccentric. He has a retarded son and has been divorced for 8 years.  As I shook his hand on his last day, his face lit up - "I am getting married next year', he beamed!  He never thought he would have another chance. I am so happy for him.



  1. It's pretty wonderful . . . thrilling . . . to see people get another chance. I'm happy for your bank manager too.
    I have to admit that this post struck a cold chill into my heart the first time I stopped by. Husband is traveling and when he's away I am equal parts "Yahoo! The house to myself!" and "Oh God, I hope he stays safe!"
    I phoned him. He got to his destination an hour ago, and he's safe.

  2. Such various lives we have. And such possibilities.

  3. Oh June, you are so right! And as the family grows - there are so many more to worry about, especially when they are travelling. I've got to the point that I have to tell myself that all due precautions have been taken. More one cannot do, so it's silly to drain energy worrying over what has not happened. (I have to repeat this over and over though).

  4. Interesting post. I have just read a long article in the Atlantic about the difficulty that younger women are having finding suitable mates in the US. Our economy is changing. Young men can't find jobs and drift off into a life of living with parents and despair. Young women are embracing colleges and have become the go getters, but suitable men for marriage are becoming hard to find. The old romantic in me would like to think that men and women desperately need each other. Hmmmm. We men may need women, but women may very well do just fine without us.


    It is a long but very interesting article, not sure how it would apply to South Africa, but it certainly does not ode well for the US.

    Both my wife and I fear the death of the other. We are kind of hoping that furnace explodes during an intimate session wiping us out instantly right at that special mOHment. Talk about an after-glow! When we get in our late 90's I may loosen up some of the fittings on the gas line...I hope I remember how to do it.

  5. None of us have any guarantees as we age. And so often, I will hear about another's challenges and think "Wow. I don't know how I would begin to deal with that." But you just do. My Aunt Molly never married or had children yet had a very rich, fulfilling life with lots of friends, many interests and an extended family that loved her dearly every day of her nearly 87 years. A college friend of mine, married for 42 years, finally divorced her alcoholic, depressed, verbally abusive husband after retirement and was prepared to have a full and active life alone. However, her former high school and college sweetheart came back into her life after a year later and they were recently married. So you just never know what's going to happen. I guess the best we can do is to develop comfort with being alone, pursuing our own interests and enjoying others -- family, friends, co-workers -- as well as valuing each day with a beloved spouse.

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